The video above is hard to watch. If you’d prefer not to, here’s what it shows: A woman who has collapsed in the middle of a dollar store, and her toddler daughter, screaming and crying and clutching her mother’s listless body.
She takes her hand and tries repeatedly to pull her mother up, but the woman does not stir. The girl uses both hands and continues to pull at her, reaching around her mother’s neck and trying to pull her head up; grabbing her chin and patting it.
The video, taken on September 18, was released by the Lawrence Police Department in Massachusetts. Police say the mother was allegedly suffering from a drug overdose. They said first responders needed two doses of Narcan to revive her. (Narcan is a medicine that blocks the effects of opiates.)
It’s the sort of video that makes you wonder why it was taken; why it is important to watch. And, perhaps more significantly, why something like this happens in the first place.
Why would anyone want to watch this?
The police department is sharing the video with the public because they hope it will help raise awareness for a growing problem.
“The upside to the video is it helps for creating awareness to how powerful addiction can be….This region and the whole Northeast is struggling with the opiate crisis,” Police Chief James Fitzpatrick told CNN.
Fitzpatrick says he knows the video is upsetting.
“The video is first shocking and then heartbreaking,” he said. “The child is in distress, you just want to reach out and help.”
Sadly, the reality it highlights is becoming more and more common in Lawrence. Fitzpatrick, a 20-year veteran of the force, calls the heroin problem in his town “historic.”
“In my career it’s increased, the amount of people that are using opiates are at historic levels — highly historic levels. The potency is such a problem,” he said.
If you are wondering why a group of people are standing around filming while a toddler wails over her inert mother, police tell CNN the store manager took the video as a “precaution.” It also appears, from background conversations, as if onlookers are either summoning help or waiting for help that has already been called.
What happened next?
Once police got there, Fitzpatrick said they found drug paraphernalia. Baggies, a straw and residue were found in the woman’s bag. He tells CNN she was sent to the hospital to be treated and was released.
The mother did not have enough drugs in her possession to be immediately charged, but the department is filing child endangerment charges.
The child remains in the Custody of the Massachusetts department of Children and Family Services, said agency spokeswoman Andrea Grossman. She couldn’t more information because of state and federal confidentiality laws.
The police are not yet identifying the woman in the video.