Heroin victim’s death used as warning
The parents of a 21 year old student who died of a Heroin overdose have released graphic pictures of her death to warn other teenagers of the dangers of the drug.
Mick and Pauline Holcroft, of Ledbury, Herefordshire, have allowed pictures of their daughter Rachel Whitear to be used in an anti-drugs video for secondary schools.
They say they want to “make people think” about the dangers of the drug – and to challenge stereotypes about drug abusers.
Mrs Holcroft, 52, said: “It’s horrific to look at a photograph like that of your own daughter. We pray that this film will make a difference.
“It was a very difficult decision to release the photograph, but we thought that if we did so we would be using her body to help others.
If it can happen to her, it can happen to anyone:
The 22-minute film, entitled Rachel’s Story, shows how she began as a “beautiful and brilliant” girl who had 10 GCSEs and two A-levels, and excelled at the piano.
Rachel’s mother and stepfather believe she first took heroin when she was 18, after being introduced to it by an older boyfriend who was an addict.
At first she kept her habit under control, was accepted by five universities and went to read psychology and sociology at Bath University.
But her addiction continued, and her parents noticed her personality had changed from fun-loving and outgoing to unhappy, insecure and unreliable.
She dropped out of university after a term and went to live in Exmouth with her boyfriend.
She died of an overdose in rented rooms in the town in May 2000, aged 21, just days after phoning her parents to say she was leaving her boyfriend and coming home.
Her body lay undiscovered for three days.
The police photograph shows her body keeled over on the floor, with bruised and discoloured flesh and a hypodermic syringe in her hand.
Mike Denton, of Herefordshire LEA, said: “The photographs of Rachel after her death are pretty harrowing.
But some of the most harrowing parts are watching the emotions on the faces of Rachel’s mother and sister as they tell the story.
“If you were trying to put together an ideal background for a young person to grow up in and be happy and successful the Holcroft family would be it”.
“Yet even in that environment it was possible for this tragedy to happen.”
Mrs Holcroft said: “I think Rachel really hated what had happened to her. But you can’t take heroin one day and suddenly decide to stop.
“Part of what this film gets over is how a person can hide their addiction.”
Mr Holcroft said: “There’ll be a point in a child’s life when someone says ‘try that’. They’ll be put into a circle where they are encouraged to try things and experiment.”
The family hopes it will become a national educational resource.