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WV third-grader’s poignant letter underscores perils of drug abuse

From staff reports

The Exponent Telegram

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The third-grader whose poignant memories of a father who died of an overdose will appear in newspapers across West Virginia, along with a picture of the two of them with another sibling taken just a week before his death.

(Submitted photo)

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said he’s hoping the girl’s heart-wrenching story “will succeed in convincing every parent and resident across the state to think twice before abusing prescription painkillers.”

Jacey Rose Chalmers of Martinsburg won the Attorney General’s Kids Kick Opioids contest last fall. Her handwritten message tells how she misses her daddy. “I want to hug and kiss him every day,” she said. “It is very sad when kids don’t have their daddy to play with. I still cry when I think about my daddy. xo”

“Jacey’s story shines light on the tragic, real-life consequences of prescription drug abuse,” Morrisey said in a news release Jan. 25. “This epidemic has killed far too many fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. Every life lost is precious. I pray Jacey’s story will resonate and cause everyone to consider the impact drug abuse.”

West Virginia led the nation again in 2015 with the highest rate of drug overdose deaths at 41.5 fatalities per 100,000 residents. That was a 16.9 percent increase from 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Jacey represents Rosemont Elementary School. Her entry was among 1,921 received from 2,212 students. The submissions came from 71 middle and elementary schools across West Virginia and included a mix of drawings, poems and other designs aimed at promoting awareness, Morrisey said.

Jacey’s design and those of the statewide runners-up can be viewed at, along with a full list of regional winners.

Kids Kick Opioids represents one initiative through which the Attorney General has sought to combat West Virginia’s drug overdose death rate. Others include criminal prosecutions, increased funding, education, civil litigation, multi-state initiatives, new technology, engagement with the faith-based community and a best practices toolkit endorsed by more than 25 national and state stakeholders.

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