Belfast Telegraph

Another young life lost to drugs scourge

Editor's Viewpoint

Once again a family has been plunged into great grief by the death of a teenager in a suspected drug incident.

Caitlin Shortland, aged only 15, died shortly after being taken to Craigavon Area Hospital on Saturday evening. The emergency services responded to reports a young girl had been found unconscious in Portadown's Corcrain Community Woodland at about 6pm.

A senior police officer has confirmed that Caitlin's death had a possible link to drugs.

The grief of the family was underlined by an aunt, who said: "We are all devastated. We had our differences, and were often at loggerheads, but we just loved her to bits."

The death of Caitlin will also disturb every parent and grandparent in the land, as does the news of the death of any young person in a drug-related incident.

It is dreadful that a young girl with her life before her has died in this way. Unfortunately, there have been so many more like her.

The whole business of drugs is a scourge that is not exclusive to the young - people of all ages are affected.

In recent months there have been far too many of our young people who have lost their lives in this way, and each one is yet another tragedy.

Part of the challenge facing a teenager is having to make the right choices. People of that age cannot simply be told what to do, because they are no longer children.

Most teenagers have a sense of their growing independence, but they are particularly vulnerable to peer pressure.

It takes a strong individual to stand against the wishes of others in a group who have no scruples.

The police and local agencies in Craigavon and elsewhere have been trying their best to combat this dangerous behaviour, which in too many cases ends in death.

The authorities can only do so much, and there is a continued onus on parents and families to educate their young about the dangers of drugs, and to pay close attention to what they are getting up to.

Those who supply the drugs are the real villains, who prey on the vulnerability of the young. Every effort must be made to apprehend these evil people, and to apply stiff sentences for their wrong-doing.

Anyone who has any information about the circumstances of Caitlin's death should contact the police immediately. Meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with her family at this terrible time.

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