In response to growing alarm over the number of heroin-related deaths in DuPage County this year, a local youth ministry is hosting a forum Sunday to raise awareness of the deadly drug.
Guest speakers familiar with the devastating effects of heroin are scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. Aug. 25 at Resurrection Catholic Church, 30 W 350 Army Trail Road in Wayne.
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They include Bartlett Police Chief Kent Williams, Bartlett Fire Chief Michael Falese, Marcus Jaeger of Countryside Funeral Homes and a representative from the LTM Heroin Awareness and Support Foundation. Bartlett police officers and paramedic crews will also be on hand to discuss heroin overdoses.
"Our goal is to get the word out that this is an issue ... and to make sure everybody is informed so they keep talking about it," said Michelle Cook, the church's director of youth ministries. "We're encouraging parents to bring their kids so youth and parents can listen at the same time and hear the same thing."
Cook said the church has invited other area youth ministries to the event and anyone is welcome to attend. The suggested age for children is sixth grade or older, she said.
According to the DuPage County Coroner's Office, there have been 31 confirmed heroin overdose deaths in DuPage County so far this year. Two were age 18 or younger, according to a spokeswoman for the coroner's office. That includes a 15-year-old incoming sophomore boy at Bartlett High School, who died in July. There are also four suspected heroin overdose deaths that are still awaiting an autopsy and toxicology report, she said.
"I think sometimes people ... they don't picture (heroin) as something that would be in the suburbs or something an athlete would take or a straight-A student would take," Cook said, adding that she hopes the youth ministry's event will teach people that the drug has "no boundaries."
While parents and children are invited to come together, they will have an opportunity to go into different areas of the church at one point during the event to get questions answered they may be uncomfortable asking around each other, Cook said. There will also be opportunities for anonymous questions, she said.
For information, visit the Resurrection Youth Ministry Facebook page.