In 1999, Austin Eubanks survived the Columbine High School massacre. He was in the library, where the worst of the bloodshed took place. While hiding underneath a table, he was shot twice, once in his hand and once in his knee, and he watched his best friend, Corey Depooter, die. He never went back to school, telling Florida Parkland students how the plywood covering the library's entrance haunted him.
Austin became addicted to the painkillers prescribed to him as a result of the shooting. He was dulling not only the physical pain of his injuries but the mental ones as well. Eventually, he sobered up and began speaking about drug addiction across the country.
While, as of this article's writing, an official cause of death has not been released, Eubanks's family remarked that he had lost the battle that he had helped other's fight for the past twenty years.
Oftentimes, when addicts relapse, they can end up overdosing because they use the same amount of drugs that they used to, and their body is no longer adapted to it. It ends up killing them.
Austin Eubanks's death has taken place in the middle of Mental Health Awareness Month and also follows the suicides of other shooting survivors in the past calendar year. It is yet another reminder, (and one that unfortunately comes too late) that while we seek for ways to stop these kinds of events from happening in the first place, we must also remember to help support those who have already witnessed the most horrific thing possible.
While looking at the hotline numbers and keeping an eye on your friends is important, as campaigns begin to wind up for federal and local officials, keep an eye on a candidate who wants to give money to mental health treatment, as so many of our youth need it now more than ever.