Batesville parents, Scott and Alisa Lancaster were on a mission April 6, 2017 at the University of Arkansas Community College – Batesville. Their goal - to encourage others to Speak Up –Speak Out to prevent drug overdose deaths and change the culture. The couple shared with students and community members the story of the loss of their late daughter, Chelsea Lancaster who passed at the young age of 25 years. Referring to the Speak Up-Speak Out Awareness campaign, Mrs. Lancaster told the audience “ as I learned more about other families struggling with this type of tragedy, I wanted to bring this program to our community to educate and empower you to make a difference.” Scott Lancaster asked “ why isn’t this auditorium full tonight?”
Matt Barden, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the DEA, speaking of the awareness of other aspects of unintentional deaths around the nation, offered “these campaigns are important in society but drug overdose deaths far outpaces gun deaths, car accident fatalities and even war deaths. We must get this message out on campuses across Arkansas." In 2016 U.S. traffic fatalities numbered approximately 40,000 and in 2015, U.S. firearm related fatalities were 13,194. Meanwhile, in 2015, total fatal drug overdose deaths were 52,400 and Barden added " 2016 is going to be off the charts." Panel member, Chief Kirk Lane of the Benton Police Department reported that in 2015, every 25 minutes a baby in the U.S. was born suffering opiate withdrawal. That is 1 out of every 200 babies.
The panel was completed by John Kirtley, Executive Director of the Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy and for the first time, welcomed Ms. Diane Upchurch, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Also joining in the group discussion in a supportive role was Cindy Murphy of the Arkansas Attorney General's Office and Cheryl May of the University of Arkansas, Criminal Justice Institute. Scott Doerhoff, Executive Director and Organizer of the William Christian Doerhoff Memorial Foundation said of the panel,” these are the premier experts in Arkansas on the issue of illicit prescription drug use and substance abuse and our foundation is so fortunate to work with such a group of professionals. Every campus in Arkansas should take advantage of this workshop for the safety of their students and at no cost to the schools.”