Culver, Ind. A recovered methamphetamine addict was the guest speaker today at Culver High School and in his 10-day trip he will speak to thousands of area students on the dangers of the highly addictive drug.
Parnell was a drug addict and dealer for years before a failed attempt at suicide turned his life around.
“I started using drugs as a teenager and I used for 23 years before I attempted suicide from the anxiety brought on by the addiction,” Parnell said. “I shot myself under the chin with an SKS deer rifle.”
Parnell’s heart stopped on the way to the hospital and his face was torn apart, but approximately 30 reconstructive surgeries later – he lived to tell his story.
“I told my wife after the suicide that I wanted to tell them the truth that this stuff would destroy their lives, rob them of all their hopes and dreams.” Parnell said. “And my wife was very supportive and encouraging. So that was about 10 years ago and I never dreamed it would get this big.”
Since 2003, Parnell has been speaking to more than 250 groups of young people a year.
“I had to learn how to talk all over again,” he said “When I started going to the very first programs people would tell me that they understood about 80 percent of what I was saying. I started doing the programs before I could even speak very well because I wanted to tell my story.”
His presentation has become famous for his use of graphic images of actual drug users to get the point across.
“The thing that everyone says about the presentation is that it’s real,” said Terry White, a member of the local coordinating council of Fulton County. “It's graphic but there's nothing on there that they haven't seen on CSI -- the difference is CSI is made in Hollywood and this is real life.”
And students seemed to hear the message loud and clear.
“I understand that this is a big problem at our state and at our own age level -- so for him to talk to us that's fantastic,” said Culver HS senior Caleb Dehning.
Junior Haley Klimaszewski was also impressed.
“Yeah, I think it got the message through and I hope some people that start with marijuana get the idea that no drugs are good and they just lead to worse things,” she said.