Lit candle next to black ribbon

Over 1,000 Families Call Out Heroin In Their Loved Ones’ Obituaries


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It’s no secret that heroin has literally gotten away with murder for years in the United States. What’s changed is that families are no longer keeping silent in the face of it. The elusive suspect with the best attorneys has stolen all they have, and its victims, with their last breath, are now warning others to run.


STAT News recently posted 52 obituaries in the past 52 weeks to tell their stories. They range from armed forces to sons of former Congressmen to race car drivers – all with a common enemy that lead to their death.


One mother, Quinnika Ayers, recently rented a billboard in New York for her son’s 21st birthday that read “rest in paradise” – in the hopes to encourage other families to step out of the shadows. Father William Scannell penned a powerful obituary after heroin killed his son after 18 months of use. The obituaries are beginning to go viral, with millions of shares on social media. In a search of, we found over 1,000 obituaries that name heroin specifically since 2009.


“Working with alumni from our drug and alcohol treatment facilities, I see firsthand, too often, the pain and agony that ripples the community when someone loses their fight to addiction,” says Vertava Health Director of Alumni Relations Amber Mohr. “These are brave souls fighting for each day, sometimes each breath and they are haunted by the grips of an addiction that threatens their every moment.”


Mohr says seeing parents and families showing the same courage in bravely calling out their child’s killer by name makes her heart soar. The loss of their child to an addiction should not be something they have to hang their head and hide from in shame.


“When parents can speak and share openly about their family’s experience, struggle and loss with addiction it peels away the layers of stigma and therefore the layers of shame,” says Mohr. “When we can talk about it openly without fear of judgment, we can heal it at a greater rate than we have been able to in the past.”


Vertava Health recently lost a very brave soul when she relapsed shortly after treatment. Her family wrote “Jessica wanted to be a drug and alcohol abuse counselor so she could help people that struggled like she did. She saw beauty in everything and loved everyone”.


“Having met Jessica, I can attest that this statement is quite accurate,” says Mohr. “She had an electric smile and truly did love everyone and saw beauty in everything, but she was haunted by her own demons and her goal in life was to conquer them so she could help others conquer theirs too.”


A beautiful life was stolen too soon from the worst kind of terrorist. One working from the inside out to destroy people, families and communities. To put this murderous disease into perspective for those who don’t battle addiction: It is estimated that the terrorist group ISIS killed 2,206 people around the world last month. Heroin alone killed 2,544 within the United States.


Maybe you weren’t in a place to share your loved one’s story publicly at the time of their death. That’s okay, and there’s no shame in how you dealt with and continue to manage your grief. If you do want to share their story, we want to help. You can send their picture and story to Director of Public Relations Brian Sullivan at [email protected]. Help us end the stigma, and let other families know they aren’t alone.


Amber Mohr

Director of Alumni Relations, Vertava Health

In her time at Vertava Health, Amber has created a Lifetime Continuum of Care™ for clients graduating from any of their various facilities. By providing ongoing, live online support, events, moderated forums and other resources, clients leave treatment with the tools they need to be successful in recovery. Her 14-year marketing career, combined with her wellness background as a Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, and Birth Doula, make her uniquely qualified to help treatment alumni find a balanced life as they navigate their life in recovery.


Call Vertava Health now!