Ohio Couple Sends Powerful Message Against Heroin Through Daughter’s Obituary

An Ohio couple has unabashedly called out the dangers of heroin by directly addressing their 18-year-old daughter’s cause of death in her obituary — from a heroin overdose.

According to the Associated Press, Fred and Dorothy McIntosh of Middletown, Ohio decided to forego propriety and family stigma by flatly stating that daughter Alison Shuemake died of a heroin overdose.

The Ohio couple directed the funeral home to begin Alison Shuemake’s obituary by stating flatly that she died “of a heroin overdose.” The AP noted that they are not the first grieving parents to cite heroin in an obituary, but it is still rare, despite the accelerating increase in heroin-related deaths in America, which have reportedly quadrupled nationally over the past decade.

Dorothy McIntosh said she never hesitated to call out heroin, despite the fact most families would rather keep an overdose death in the family secret.

“There was no hesitation. We’ve seen other deaths when it’s heroin, and the families don’t talk about it because they’re ashamed or they feel guilty. Shame doesn’t matter right now.”

“What really matters is keeping some other person, especially a child, from trying this… We didn’t want anybody else to feel the same agony and wretchedness that we’re left with.”

The Ohio couple hope to promote healthy dialogue in the country in the hopes that others can be saved from the same fate.

Fred McIntosh, a retired Middletown police detective who investigated crimes against children, noted that in Butler County, where the Shuemakes live, the coroner’s statistics show heroin-related deaths jumped in two years from 30 to 103 in 2014, with 86 recorded already through the first six months of this year.

The Ohio couple’s decision has been met with a wide outpouring of support, both locally and on social media, with online comments and emails from around the world.

Alison’s obituary describes her as “funny, smart, gregarious, tenacious and strong-willed teenager with gusto.” Dorothy shared that Alison’s had a love for “sparkle,” which she said also described her personality.

According to WBNS-10, it was on August 25 that Alison’s roommate called to tell the Ohio couple that something was wrong with Alison and her boyfriend Luther. Dorothy had been trying to reach her daughter to no avail before the 3:30 a.m. emergency call.

Dorothy rushed over to the apartment and saw immediately both were “definitely gone.” She spotted a needle on the floor.

According to the Middletown Journal, as police, paramedics, and the coroner’s investigator did their work, she sat with Alison’s body and sang to her their special song, drawn from the children’s book “Love You Forever.”

Before Alison’s obituary was published, her mother called her boyfriend’s family to let them know of the plan to name heroin in her obituary. They had no objection.

A few days later, Luther’s obituary was published and it echoed the one submitted by the Ohio couple for their lost daughter.

“Luther David Combs, 31, of Middletown, passed away Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015, of a heroin overdose.”

[Image via Twitter/The News Diva]