Sally S. – September 2, 2020

A 2014 Open Letter to the Person Who Called Me a Failed Parent

I belong to the club no one wants to join. My son Andy died by suicide in March 2014 at age 31 in Arizona. I have since met other mothers enduring this life change and trying to heal as I am. I find we mothers feel and behave like all mothers – trying desperately to protect our young. We protect children we still have and others threatened by the same harm that took our children. Some of us behave like badgers – we are serious and a force to be reckoned with. Like disturbing a bees nest – we go to work to rebuild our lives honoring our children that left us far too young. 

My son left a note that included these words “Marijuana killed my soul + ruined my brain.” My son desperately tried to break his marijuana addiction in his last days. Whenever I hear and read the words that marijuana has never killed anyone, is harmless, is not addictive, my heart hurts.

My new friends in the club no one wants to join and I work to educate others, especially other young people and the medical profession. There is a strong relationship between marijuana use and psychosis and suicide. But a terrible thing can happen when we speak out. When we publish our stories, offered in efforts to protect and educate others, the comments that ensue in social media can be brutal.

We have been called liars.  I have been named #FailedParent. Commenters diagnose our children, usually with PTSD and mental illness and claim marijuana should not be blamed.  Since he was a veteran, I have been told George Bush killed my son. I have been told I killed my son.

I volunteer with an AZ organization that fights to educate young people about substance abuse. My organization has been criticized for taking advantage of me and my son and told they should be ashamed of doing that.

Who attacks well meaning parents and community service organizations working for public health? I am never approached personally, thank goodness. Attackers make it clear they support normalizing and commercializing drugs, claiming that will be safer for our children. I cannot understand that. Especially now that I look at that from the perspective of a mother missing her wonderful son who should still be here today.

Update 2020:

I am gratified to find in the year 2020 there are more parents willing to share their testimonies about the risks and harms of marijuana. There is more and better science confirming our experiences. But I am saddened that the media and legislators still seem to pardon the drug for the damage done to our families.

I am grateful to organizations like Johnny’s Ambassadors that bring light to the issues and problems. I am just so sorry that my son Andy and Johnny Stack now know each other in Heaven rather than in life with us here on Earth. My Andy would have really enjoyed knowing Johnny. We miss our children every minute of every day.

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