Stark image of young life lost a sobering reality of alcohol

MY kids have the stark image of a coffin holding the body of a young family friend to remind them of the dangers of alcohol.

It's the kind of alcohol-education campaign money can't buy as its impact on their still fragile little minds should be lifelong.

Of course, we never went to the funeral for my children's benefit.

We didn't know our young friend we were farewelling had died in tragic, alcohol-fuelled circumstances,  during the first State of Origin event last year.

We didn't know how he died, we were simply there to pay our respects to his mum and dad and to say a sad goodbye when we heard the news.

She explained he had been out drinking with friends and they still don't know what happened.

He was only 19 and the toxic combination of too much alcohol, probably some drugs and a party atmosphere somehow proved fatal.

Apparently, this kind of death is easier and more common than we would like to believe.

A person gets drunk, possibly has a drug which takes away an ability to respond, vomits, falls into it and - before anyone can notice - suffocates.

My sons, now 10 and 11, don't remember our friend as a child.  His mum and dad were the first couple we befriended in this country.

They don't remember the adorable, cute kid who was shy and cautious and caring and kind.

But they will remember standing in a funeral home on a cold winter day looking at a coffin as fake rain poured down the window pains.

They will remember the tears of his mum - who we had only visited a few months earlier - and they will remember the coffin.

Hopefully they will remember that having a drink can be fun, but having too much can be disastrous.

I don't think closing pubs earlier or more policing is going to curb  the problem we have with alcohol-related incidents - whether they be violence, illness of unnecessary deaths.

I think it is important we educate our children by showing what can happen, while they are young and impressionable enough to listen.

When they are older, I think they should have to face the consequence of a drunken night out by cleaning up their mess - whether it be vomit on a side-walk or vandalism.

Then they should have to serve tea in a hospital emergency room so they can see the tragic cases that come through.

Being forced to confront the consequences of too much alcohol or drugs should help cure their cry of "we're bored".

If you are old enough to drink, you should be old enough to think and we shouldn't have to expect governments to introduce new rules to govern our behaviour.

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