ASU-Jonesboro hosts ‘Speak Up-Speak Out’ Workshop

“Speak Up-Speak Out” Workshop at ASU

On February, 9, 2017, Arkansas State University in Jonesboro hosted the William Christian Doerhoff Memorial Foundation’s inaugural Speak Up-Speak Out workshop and the focus was on the life-threatening dangers of illicit prescription drug use and illegal substance abuse on high school and college campuses.

Amber Long of Arkansas State University Counseling Center told the crowd that, “As much as we don’t want to believe [drug problems] are here, it is.”

“You came to this university to make a difference,” said Matthew Barden, Assistant Special Agent and Charge of the DEA in Arkansas. “Tonight, we will present the compelling story of the prescription opioid crisis in our country and on campuses all across the nation. We hope to teach and empower students to escape the bystander effect, and save a life by speaking up and speaking out. We profile William ‘Will’ Christian Doerhoff, who grew up in Maumelle, Arkansas and went to Little Rock Catholic High School, one of the most stringent high schools in America.”

He added, “I challenge you not to do drugs and if you see someone who is – Speak Up-Speak Out.”

Featured speakers Barden and Long were supported by Executive Director of the Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy John Kirtley and Benton Police Department Chief Kirk Lane.

Will’s Story

Will had a 3.7 GPA and scored 27 on his ACT. He was a member of the Maumelle Youth Council and President of the Community Service Club at Catholic High where he spent his weekends working and volunteering to help people. As far as his parents knew, their son Will never abused drugs of any kind in high school.

Will began his college career in the fall semester of 2014 at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, as an 18-year-old freshman. Will said that during his fraternity pledging semester there was drinking and many of the boys, including Will, took illicit prescription drugs as a stimulant. Will confessed that one of his older fraternity brothers taught him to inject and smoke illicit prescription narcotics. Had Will’s parents known of this early, he would have been home and in treatment as quickly as this began.

In early July 2015, Will’s mother found him face-down, barely alive in his bedroom. His prescription drug use had escalated and he had overdosed on Heroin. Will was successful in recovery for a year. But one day in October 2016, he relapsed. At 20 years old, heroin took his life.

What began as permissive illicit prescription narcotics use on a college campus, led to the death of one of the most beautiful children God put on this earth, said Will’s parents. After Will’s death, his mother and father found his cell phone which was open to a chat and his fraternity brothers discussing what happened. In their words, “10 to 20” of them knew that their pledge brother had gotten caught up in hard drug use with an older student but none of them knew it was OK to say something or tell someone.

Students engage in the “Bystander Effect.” The William Christian Doerhoff Memorial Foundation’s goal is to empower peers to “Speak Up-Speak Out” when they know their friends are participating in illicit prescription drug use and illegal substance abuse. “You have the potential to save a life,” said Barden.