PHOENIX (One Pill Can Kill) -- At 15 years old, Isaiah was the life of the party. He lit up the room with his infectious smile and outgoing personality. He not only performed well in the classroom, but he also was a star player on the gridiron. Isaiah was born to play football. His mom, Marissa, said he had a dream. "To play in the NFL. He was holding a football literally since he was a baby."
But behind the smile, Isaiah was struggling to accept that his parents had separated. Back in January, Isaiah boarded a flight to Sacramento to visit his dad and see some old friends, "He got to his dad's house, and you know kids, they don't want to hang out with their parents. They want to go see their friends," Marissa said.
What was supposed to be a fun trip to the mall to buy clothes for school turned into something gut-wrenching and unthinkable -- something for which no parent is ever prepared. Marissa described in detail those fateful moments.
"You could tell this boy was not OK. He wasn't just asleep. He was basically dead."
"The story is that the kids there were taking pills, and they told Isaiah, 'Here. just take half.' So, he took that half pill. Later on, I guess he ended up taking the other half, and those friends were upset because, like, 'Why are you taking the other half? NO! NO! you're going to die!' And, Isaiah didn't know why they're telling him this, and he said, 'Why? I'm fine. What's the issue? It's Oxy.' A couple minutes pass by, and they're saying he's stumbling, and he went to go lay down in one of the bedrooms. And after a while, they noticed he wasn't moving or responding. So, what they did was they took a picture of him, and they sent it on Snapchat. And that's how I found out about it."
A family member also saw the Snapchat picture and called Marissa in a panic. "She said, 'Wake up! There's a picture of Isaiah, and they're saying he took a pill and he's not responding'. And she's like, 'I don't think he's alive. He's gray!'"
"When you saw that picture on Snapchat -- seeing your 15-year-old son lifeless spread all over social media as if he's not a real human being -- as a mother in that moment, what was that like?" I asked
"Honestly, it haunts me every day of my life since it happened," Marissa answered. "That image is always in my head. I wake up at night or in the morning [and] it's the first thing I think about. It's just hard to describe because I knew he wasn't OK. Because you could tell [that] he had been without oxygen because he was gray. Like, his hands and his face and just the way his arms were limp and his head was just tilted to the side. You could tell this boy was not OK. He wasn't just asleep. He was basically dead".
Marissa packed her bags within minutes and headed straight to the airport, taking the next flight to the hospital in Sacramento. Doctors were able to get Isaiah's heart beating again, but he was on life support. They could not offer any hope. Marissa describes the moments she got to the hospital.
"I get there, and they're telling me the only reason we're keeping him alive is because we wanted you to be here because there's nothing we can do," she recalled. "His organs are shutting down. There's no brain activity. He had blood coming from every hole. Tubes down his throat. I knew when I got there that was going to be the last time seeing him."
"I like to tell this story because I like to think that he waited for me," Marissa continued. "Because as soon as I got there and laid with him and I told him, 'Isaiah, I know you're hurting right now but just know that I love you no matter what, and if you're ready to let go, then let go.' And, he did. Not even 5 minutes later."
Marissa is still trying to figure out why Isaiah took a pill that his friends gave him, "I sit back, and I think like, 'Why would Isaiah do this?' We had talks with him about drugs -- especially pills -- because you don't know what those are. I know Isaiah struggled, and I know he dealt with some kind of depression, you know. You always had a sense that he wasn't good enough. I always had to reiterate that, 'You know we love you.'"
Marissa says this tragedy has given her a purpose in life. "If I tell Isaiah's story, and [kids] see somebody their age or someone they can relate to, maybe they will be like, 'Wow, that kid is dead because he took a pill,'" she explained. "But what they don't know is that Isaiah, when he was alive, he was an athlete. He had good grades. He had a lot of friends. And his coaches didn't just view him as a player on the team; they viewed him as their son. So, he had a big support system. So, at the end of the day, he just made a really horrible decision that night, not knowing it was going to cost him his life."
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