DEAR ABBY: I have just returned from burying my firstborn cherished child, who died from a drug overdose. The "Just Say No" campaign has been a great failure in our country. Perhaps a better theme would be, "Tell someone if you suspect that a friend has a substance-abuse problem."
I know we have all been raised not to tattle, but if just one of the young people who were so devastated at my child's funeral had anonymously telephoned a member of the clergy, a school counselor, a neighbor or family member and said, "This is what I know or suspect my friend is doing; please help him (or her)," the outcome would have been different.
My clever, well-educated, beautiful child was also a master of deceit. For the past few years, the trust that we had in our child had been misplaced. There was a self-destructive urge that was stronger than anything that had ever existed in our world. The heartbroken friends that we saw today were all part of the great conspiracy of silence: "Don't tattle on your friends. They can get themselves straightened out." Well, they can't and they didn't -- and now some of them are dead!
Had an anonymous message been relayed to us, maybe there wouldn't have been a funeral today, but a continuation of a beautiful, productive life. I know now that whenever I hear something that troubles me, I'll pass that information to someone who can check it out. The pain of losing this child will be with me forever. Perhaps if some good can come of this, one life will not have been wasted, and someone else will be spared immeasurable heartache.
God bless you, Abby. -- SOMEONE IN GEORGIA
DEAR SOMEONE: Please accept my heartfelt condolences on the loss of your child. I'm printing your letter with the hope that it will encourage younger readers to speak up when they know a friend is in trouble.