DEAR ABBY: I'm writing regarding "Worried Mom" from Montana, who is frightened about her children drinking "21 shots" on their 21st birthday. She is rightfully concerned about this so-called "rite of passage." We lost our daughter, Kim, to binge drinking two years ago on Nov. 25. She consumed between 22 and 24 shots in a four-hour period and died in her dorm room. She was only 18. Did she know the danger she put herself in? No.

We now have a Web site that lists the signs of alcohol poisoning and what to do. The URL is � HYPERLINK "http://www.kimsawareness.net" ��www.kimsawareness.net�.

To lose a child over a senseless mistake causes pain that never goes away. Young adults must realize that if they indulge in any kind of binge drinking, they could never see tomorrow. -- MOTHER WHO'S BEEN THERE, UPPER DARBY, PA.

DEAR MOTHER: Please accept my deepest sympathy for your loss, as well as my thanks for reaching out to warn parents and young adults about this practice. If your letter saves even one life, your effort will have been worth it. After "Worried Mom's" letter appeared, I was deluged with mail. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: In Minnesota, the practice is called "Power Hour," and the person turning 21 tries to drink 21 shots between midnight and 1 a.m. of his or her birthday. We begged our son not to do it. We told him the danger. He, too, insisted, "It's fine!" At 1:30 a.m. we got a phone call from the hospital where he spent the next 12 hours on life support. We were lucky. Our son nearly died. This foolish, dangerous practice can lead to tragedy. Beware! -- MINNESOTA MOM

DEAR ABBY: I work on a military base. Several months ago, we heard the tragic news that a service member had died after "celebrating" his 21st birthday by drinking 21 shots. It turned out to be his last birthday. The cause of death was alcohol poisoning. Despite all the warnings and lectures, it still happened.

Please, parents, tell your children it is NOT "fine." It's deadly. My heart goes out to the parents of that young man. -- READER IN KNOB NOSTER, MO.

DEAR ABBY: Twenty-one drinks is over the lethal dose for alcohol. A local man bet he could drink 21 martinis in one hour. He won the bet and expired immediately. That mother is right to be worried. -- LEWIS R., M.D.

DEAR ABBY: In my hometown, a man took his son to the local bowling alley on his 21st birthday and proceeded to buy him 21 shots of liquor. Two hours later, the "birthday boy" was dead and his father was in jail. There's no way the human body can process that much alcohol in a few hours. -- DOUG FROM SACRAMENTO

DEAR ABBY: I'm surprised that "21 shots" nonsense is still happening. I witnessed it twice when I was in the Air Force and college. The first time, the guy tried to drink a fifth of whiskey. He died on the way to the hospital. The second guy tried to drink a case of beer in one sitting. He was hospitalized for weeks and was never the same again. Alcohol should not be necessary to have a fun time -- but getting that across isn't easy. -- SILVER FOX, SEVEN HILLS, OHIO

DEAR ABBY: If my daughter hadn't had a friend who brought her home to me, she would have died from binge drinking. Luckily, I was able to get her to the ER on time. Literally hundreds of kids die every year because of this. A college Web site -- � HYPERLINK "http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov" ��www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov� -- addresses this issue in a fact-based, peer-run, straight-forward forum. Let "Worried Mom" and other concerned parents know about it. This is a plague among our children. Knowing the facts is the only way to keep from dying. -- THANKFUL MOTHER, VENTURA, CALIF.

Add your comments to the discussion.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

Add your comments to the discussion.

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600

More like Dear Abby