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Healthy Youth Initiative response to Fentanyl overdoses in the region

Dear Community and Families,

We are deeply saddened by the recent tragic deaths of two Skyline High School students in Sammamish, as well as a Ballard High School student in Seattle. These deaths appear to be caused by Fentanyl overdoses. Fentanyl is often added to illicit street drugs such as fake pills and white powder. Fentanyl and other opioids cause overdose by slowing breathing which eventually can cause death. According to the health department, deaths like these are occurring more frequently in this area among people 18 or younger. 

To support our Mercer Island community, we are sharing information on how to help our youth develop an understanding of the dangers and impact of opioid, Fentanyl, prescription drugs, and substance abuse.  

Strong partnerships among our community agencies, the District and families are our best defense against youth drug and alcohol abuse. The collaborative partnership between the City of Mercer Island and the District affords our students support and access to mental health counselors in each of our schools, in addition to a drug and alcohol counselor at the high school, and a school resource officer working across all six schools.

Together the District, MIYFS, and MI Police meet regularly as part of the Healthy Youth Initiative to address youth concerns in our community. Last week, Mercer Island Parent Edge sponsored an event called “Hidden in Plain Sight”, a training and information platform to help parents spot signs of at-risk behaviors through an interactive display of a teenager’s bedroom and follow-up discussion.

Our collaboration includes you. The research is clear - parents are the "#1 influence" on their child's decision to drink or use drugs. Your positive role modeling and attentive parenting is always vital to your children’s well being, particularly during their teen years. We strongly encourage you to remain actively engaged in the lives of your children. 

For more information, we recommend reading Overdose Update: Recent Increase in Overdose Deaths Linked to Fentanyl-Laced Pills and Powders, an article from Public Health Seattle & King County as you engage in conversations with your children.

Another educational article, Students in High-Achieving Schools are Now Named an ‘At-Risk’ Group, Study Says, from The Washington Post, discusses the pressure, stress and potential impacts associated with children in communities such as ours. It includes the views of Dr. Suniya Luthar, who worked with our community last spring through MIYFS and MIHS, teaching parents, students and staff ways to support our youth in their overall well-being.

If you would like to reach out directly to your teen’s counselor, the MIYFS drug and alcohol counselor, or the School Resource Officer, please feel free to do so. The below links are provided for your reference:

MIYFS Counselor at MIHS, Ariel Schachter (206) 236-3290,

MIYFS Counselor at IMS, Harry Brown, 206 230-6154, 

Alcohol and Drug Intervention Specialist, Chris Harnish (206) 236-3363,

School Resource Officer Art Munoz: (206) 275-7929

Thank you for joining with us to create a safe and supportive community for our youth.

Donna Colosky, Superintendent

Mercer Island School District

Cynthia Goodwin, Director

Mercer Island Youth and Family Services

Ed Holmes, Chief of Police

City of Mercer Island