INDIANAPOLIS — Advocates are encouraging you to talk to your children about the opioid epidemic.
The Indiana Department of Health reports 41 people under the age of 24 died of an overdose in Marion county last year.
“Unfortunately one little pill will take their life," Anderson native Kevin Oliver said. “I lost two children in ‘21. I’m not doing this for me. This just brings up pain and agony for me everyday. I’m doing this so another parent doesn’t feel what I feel everyday.”
Oliver's son Andon was shot and killed in January and months later his son Kevin Jr. died of a fentanyl overdose.
In the wake of their deaths, Oliver founded Andon's Blessings and Breaking the Chains of Addiction to spread awareness about gun violence and the opioid epidemic.
“We have got to step and talk to our children, another who we’re running with, what kinda pills they’ve heard about. We’ve got to educate our children. It’s something that has to happen," he said.
Right now, drug use is on the minds of many parents in Central Indiana.
In Hendricks County, two Avon High School have died of drug overdose since March.
PREVIOUS | 2nd Avon High School student dies of suspected overdose since March 15 (wrtv.com)
The district superintendent , along with addiction/recovery experts, discussed the recent tragedies during a podcast called Orioles in-the-know.
“I think the first step is acknowledging that 90 percent of cases of substance use or substance use disorder are co-occurring with a mental health struggle of some sort. Most often that’s depression, anxiety, it could be post traumatic stress disorder," Chase Cotten with the Willow Center said.
In Marion County, there were 67 overdose calls last year from more than 300 public, private and charter schools.
There are 23 so far this year.
A spokesperson for IEMS declined to comment on these statistics but did say the numbers could be “alarming from a parent's perspective.”
“Be involved in your children’s lives. Know who their friends are. Know where they’re going. Pry. Ask them to see their phones, their computers. Be involved," Debra Rybolt said.
Rybolt's 17-year-old is graduating high school this year and has seen firsthand the impact drug use has had on his classmates.
Rybolt says that’s why when he grows up, he wants to make a positive change in his community.
“He’s also trying to get a lot of information as well so when he has to become a police officer, he’d like to talk to the younger generations about the gangs, the drugs. It’s always there," she said.
If you’d like to get involved in this advocacy work, Andon's Blessings is meeting Sunday, May 7 at 1:30 p.m. at the Blue Bridge in downtown Anderson.
They will be shooting a commercial that will be aired nationwide to help educate and spread awareness for gun violence and drug addiction/overdose awareness.