WARNING — the video footage posted in this article may be upsetting to some viewers.
An 8-year-old boy, playing with a Halloween toy, is seated at a picnic table with his father and his grandmother. The man says he has something to tell the boy and both adults hold the boy’s hand. The father, smoking a cigarette, looks down as he clasps his son’s hand across the table.
“Your mommy died last night.”
The child, at first, appeared not to hear, he was so stricken. The man repeats the words, “Your mommy died last night, okay?”
The child said, “My mom?” and then “How?” and his agonizing sobs are heard before the father can even answer.
Brendan Bickerstaff-Clark is the dad, and he lives in Youngstown, Ohio. He posted the video last Monday night on Facebook at 9:06 pm, and at the time of this writing, it has had more than 34 million views. He posted it along with this message.
“THIS FOR ANY AND EVERY ADDICT WITH CHILDREN. TODAY I HAD TO TELL MY 8 YEAR OLD SON THAT HIS MOMMY DIED FROM A DRUG OVERDOSE LAST NIGHT. THIS IS THE REALIZATION…AND REALITY OF OUR DISEASE. DONT LET THIS DISEASE HAVE TO MAKE SOMEONE TELL YOUR CHILD THAT YOUR [sic] DEAD BECAUSE OF DRUGS. THIS WAS ONE OF THE HARDEST THINGS IVE EVER HAD TO DO. MY SON HAS NO MOTHER BECAUSE OF HEROIN… KINDA HARD TO HEAR BUT U CAN HEAR WHAT WE’RE SAYING.
PLEASE GET HELP SO OUR CHILDREN DONT HAVE TO SUFFER. THIS WASNT STAGED. THIS WAS REAL. I HAD SOMEONE RECORD THIS SO ADDICTS WITH CHILDREN CAN SEE THE SERIOUSNES[sic] OF OUR EPIDEMIC. I AM A RECOVERING ADDICT MYSELF WITH 94 DAYS CLEAN TODAY… PLEASE SHARE N MAYBE HELP SAVE A CHILDS PARENTS LIFE.
The video of his son, Cameron, discovering that his mother is gone forever, has generated a tremendous amount of public opinion, both positive and negative.
While many thought that it was heartless to film the boy’s reaction and show it on social media, Cameron’s father, himself a recovering heroin addict, said he posted it so that people who are doing drugs could see exactly what is going to happen, and how agonizing it will be, for their child to learn of his or her parent’s death. With the recent wave of startling heroin incidents, from police posting photos of a grandmother using heroin and being near death in a car while her grandson is strapped in the car-seat in the back, to the child who got on the bus and told her bus-driver that her siblings were inside the house with their parents who would not wake up, social media has taken the epidemic of heroin to a new level of awareness.
According to the Washington Post, authorities confirmed that Cameron’s mother, 29-year-old Lacy Wood, died of a suspected heroin overdose on Oct. 9, in Warren, Ohio, which is a town near the Pennsylvania border. A spokeswoman for the Trumbull County coroner said results of toxicology tests are pending. Clark, who is also 29- years-old, reveals on his own Facebook page the struggles he’s had — including failed relationships, serving time in jail, difficulty finding employment, and warnings to friends to only come over for barbecues if they are not going to be drinking alcohol. He counts the days frequently that he has been sober.
While many commenters state that the video should not have been taken or shown without the child’s permission, many more state that the video shows a stark reality that many children face every day, and that Clark was willing to face condemnation to put a name and face to the epidemic, and hopefully reach someone who is heading down a deadly path before their child has to hear the news that Cameron did.
Readers, please share your thoughts on the video.
[Featured Image by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images]