Becky Savage can’t remember much about the day of June 14, 2015. It’s safe to say it was the worst day of her life. It started early, at 12:30 a.m. when her teenage sons Nick and Jack arrived home from a graduation party and checked in with her. Then they all went to bed, Jack to his room and Nick to the basement, because he had some friends spending the night. CNN reports that hours later, after she awoke for the day and went about her household chores, she became concerned when she couldn’t rouse Jack while collecting laundry in his room.
“He was unresponsive. I called 911, and I remember hollering for Nick, for him to come up, and how he never came,” Savage says.
It’s hard to imagine anything worse than finding your son unresponsive, but Savage’s ordeal was about to reach stages of unimaginable horror. After first responders arrived and tried (and failed) to resuscitate Jack, Savage vaguely noticed them going down into the basement.
“I had no idea at that point what they were doing in our basement. And then I remember one of them coming up and asking for a coroner. That’s the last thing that I remember that day,” she told CNN.
Grief and shock has erased the rest of that day from Savage’s memory: both her teenage sons died from accidental overdoses of prescription opioids and alcohol. Someone at the graduation party had passed around hydrocodone pills, and the boys’ impulsive choice to take them ended their lives. The boys had never previously been in trouble for drinking or drugs, and this is a classic and tragic example of even older teens not being mature enough (scientifically even, their frontal lobes are NOT fully developed, people) to perceive the possible grave consequences of such a choice.
Savage, her husband, and their other two children spent the next year trying to figure out to live in this horrible new normal without their two oldest sons. After Becky reluctantly agreed to accept an invitation to speak at a local town hall about underage drinking, their moving forward REALLY began. Expecting less than 50 people, Becky ended up speaking to over 200, and the family finally realized the dramatic life-saving impact their story could have on others.
That first speaking engagement led to many others, and the family soon formed the 525 Foundation (For Nick and Jack’s hockey numbers) to honor their sons’ lives and to spread awareness so they can prevent “another family from having to endure the pain” that they have gone through.
One of the main ways she is doing this is by talking to parents about the danger of prescription drugs. “We’ve talked to our kids about drinking, but we had never talked to them about prescription drugs, because it wasn’t even on our radar,” she says. They’ve also teamed up with local law enforcement to do prescription drug collections. If you’re done using them, the ONLY safe thing to do is to turn them in so they can be safely destroyed. After just three of these local events, they had collected and safely destroyed over 1,500 POUNDS of pills!
“If you think about how much one pill weighs, that’s a lot of pills collected,” Savage says. “And when you think that one of those pills could take a life, that could potentially be a lot of lives saved.”
Parents, I urge you, in memory of Jack and Nick Savage, to not just read this article and walk away unchanged. GET RID OF your prescription meds that you aren’t using and TALK TO YOUR KIDS about the dangers of prescription opioids and all other prescription medications. And most of all, don’t think “not my kid” – because that’s the most dangerous thought you can have about your kids.