Third Grader Speaks About Losing Father to Heroin Overdose

By Kelly Burch 11/04/16

The girl shared her story as part of West Virginia’s "Kids Kick Opioids" poster contest. 

Third Grader Speaks About Losing Father to Heroin Overdose
Photo via Office of the West Virginia Attorney General

Third-grader Jacey Chalmers is named for her father, Jason. Now, that name is an important tie to the man who died from a heroin overdose when Jacey was just six years old. 

Chalmers shared her story as part of West Virginia’s "Kids Kick Opioids" contest. Her poster was the winner, announced by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morissey. 

Chalmers’ poster features a photo of her with her little brother and father, just a week before he overdosed and died. A handwritten note that accompanies the photo reads: “This is a picture of me and my daddy and my little brother. I love my daddy so much. Then the next week my daddy died from taking drugs. I cried and cried. I miss my daddy. I want to hug and kiss him every day. It is very sad when kids don’t have their daddy to play with now. I still cry when I think about my daddy.”

Chalmers’ heartbreaking message will appear in newspapers throughout West Virginia as a public service announcement. The brave little girl who penned the announcement hopes that parents will think twice about the impact their drug addiction has on their children. 

"The reason why we did it, and it was so important [is] because we want to save more than one life,” Jacey told Your4State “We want to have my daddy help somebody not take one drug or do anything like that."

Chalmers' grandmother, Christine Chalmers, said her son battled addiction for 22 years but could never break the family cycle of addiction, despite his love for his children. “Her dad hated being on drug. He adored these children,” she said. 

Christine hopes that Jacey will continue to honor her father’s memory and help shine light on the effect of addiction on family members. "I'm proud she recognizes that her father was a good man,” she said. 

Although Chalmers wrote on the poster that she cries when she thinks of her father, she also remembers the fun and silly times they had together, and their shared love of music. 

“His little happy dance thing, it was so crazy and creative,” she said. “He would just go like a monkey, and it was like a bobblehead monkey type thing.”

Christine had advice for other parents like her son, who are struggling with addiction.

"Look down at the children, look at your children who are looking up at you and think [that] this may be the last time I ever see my children or this may be the last time, my children see me,” she said. “Take a moment to think. It's not just you.”

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.