A COUPLE who shared a heart-wrenching image of their son taken after his death from drugs have thanked YEP readers for their kind words of support and tributes to their “kind, caring and considerate” boy.
Gareth and Candace Edwards, of Bramley, bravely shared the image of their 19-year-old son Josh, laid in a hospital bed to raise awareness of the dangers of illicit drugs.
As reported in the YEP online last night, the mechanical engineer and Leeds United fan suffered a fatal reaction to ecstasy and cocaine and died in hospital after suffering a fitting episode in May 2017.
Senior coroner Kevin McLoughlin, said Josh’s death, which came after what was believed to be his first time trying drugs, was a “monumental tragedy.”
Today, Mr and Mrs Edwards told the YEP they took comfort in knowing just how far the harrowing image of their son had reached.
In less than 24 hours since it first went online, the story has had over 100,000 page views, plus 2,600 shares on the Yorkshire Evening Post Facebook page. The post itself has reached 158,000 people.
Mrs Edwards, 46, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the response. We are happy that people are sharing it - hopefully it will be shared even more over the coming days.
“The comments we’ve had have been very positive - and many boil down to the same thing: peer pressure.
“As a family, we did everything we could to teach Josh about the dangers of drugs, we used to make him watch documentaries and we’d talk about it. Josh had many allergies, especially when he was a child, and I used to say to him if there is ever any peer pressure, walk away - I just prayed it would never happen.
“Drugs were not something that were in our family. Since his death, my eyes have been opened to the amount of drugs on our streets - I see it every day. Rich or poor, it doesn’t matter. They are everywhere.”
Mr Edwards said he was moved to share the image of his son in St James’s Hospital in the hope that it would help someone.
“I remember the picture of Leah Betts from the 1990s, and the effect that it had on me. I remember the police saying what an impact it had on drug related deaths at the time.
“As much as that picture hurts me, I want it to have the same impact.
“I’ve seen that people are showing it to their children. We weren’t blind to the dangers of drugs, and Candace in particular, drummed it into Josh. But there is so much peer pressure out there, how do you combat that?”
Mrs Edwards said her son had an “impact on everybody he met”, something that is continuing now in his death.
She said: “He was a bouncy, shiny lad, he just lit up the room. He was kind and considerate and that has been his downfall. He liked to please people.”
The impact of Josh’s death has been felt widely, especially by his sister Kailey, 25, and his close friends.
In May, his friends gathered at the family home to celebrate what would have been his 21st birthday.
Mrs Edwards said: “You wake up in the morning have the intention of getting on with you life, then half an hour later you can’t move.
“From my point of view, spreading the words (of the dangers of drugs) is so important, I believe young people should be educated in school. We thought we had done everything we could, but we paid the ultimate price.”