Between 1999 and 2005 — the last year for which statistics are available — in the United States, 157 young people between the ages of 18 to 23 drank themselves to death.
Between 1999 and 2005 — the last year for which statistics are available — in the United States, 157 young people between the ages of 18 to 23 drank themselves to death. That's according to an Associated Press analysis of records released earlier this month by the federal government.
The number of young people dying from alcohol poisoning almost doubled in six years, from 18 in 1999 to 35 in 2005, with a low of 14 in 2001.
We think that's a disturbing bit of information, to say the least.
Girard could almost be called and adjunct college town, by association with and proximity to Pittsburg State University just 15 or so miles away. And fortunately, to the best of his knowledge, University Police Department Sgt. T. J. Duncan says there's those statistics don't include members of the PSU student body.
That doesn't mean that drinking doesn't occur on campus. Every semester, Duncan says, U.P.D. gets somewhere between three and five calls to come to the dorm because a student has over-imbibed. But no one has died from alcohol poisoning at PSU in Duncan's memory.
It would be naïve of parents to think children won't drink when they go away to college. Off on their own and away from home for, in most cases, the first time. You can share your values and your beliefs with your young people and, in most cases, hopefully that will be enough to protect them.
But what if it's not?
We're not saying that every student is going to start drinking before they even get their bags unpacked. But a percentage will. What are you going to say to those young people?
“Use common sense in your drinking,” Sgt. Duncan says. “I'm not going to say I agree with it. But I'm not going to stop it, if I'm not there. They're going to do what they want to do when (their parents) are not around.”
So, parents. Sit down and talk with your future college student now. Talk honestly and openly about responsible alcohol consumption. Share with them the dangers of over-consumption and make sure they understand your concerns are truly for their welfare.
College will be starting soon. Possibly sooner than you think. As you go through the check-lists of everything your son or daughter is planning to take with them, be sure they're armed with the information they need to either avoid the temptations of drinking or, if they decide to drink, to drink responsibly.
And, if your beliefs don't condone the consumption of alcohol, please, don't assume that will be enough. It may be. But it may not be, too.
The culture shock of being away from home, the atmosphere of the college campus, can easily overwhelm the most level-headed student. They are, after all, young. We were all young once. Hopefully, we remember what it was like and can share the knowledge and experience we've gained over the years and help our young people avoid becoming a disturbing statistic.
— Andrew D. Brosig for The Morning Sun