Love, family dealing with son’s tragedy

“Houston, we have a problem. Farragut, we have a problem.”

That’s how Henry Love summed up the recent Farragut tragedies. He should know.

“Chantal [his wife] and I lost our son March 12,” he said.

Justin Love, a 2011 Farragut graduate, died from a drug overdose.

Love was at the parent meeting at Farragut High School Thursday, May 4, but said he wasn’t entirely pleased with it.

“I felt like it was window dressing,” he said, “but the school can only do so much. They can’t raise the kids. One thing that did bother me is that they said we’re not going to have a forum like this for the students because some students might be laughing or not taking it serious. I can see that. Kids can be very callous or insecure. I think it’s that blanket thing they always do. They’re afraid to step across the line. I say make it voluntary. [School personnel are] not equipped to deal with this kind of thing, especially this much at one time.”

Love said he wants more education and one-on-one parent consultation.

“You have to tell the parents ‘You’re the one accountable for your kid,’” he said. “The teacher needs to say ‘I’m seeing some unusual behavior in your kid.’ I think there should be a person on staff at all times — and maybe there is — a neutral person who kids can talk to in confidence. There’s so much going on out there with family issues and divorce. Life happens. The kids don’t know how to cope with it, so they go to pills or substances. I feel a lot of the parents are disengaged.”

Love served as a federal agent with the Department of Energy for 22 years and with security police in the U.S. Air Force before that.

“I had security training but no psychological or emotional training,” he said. “There’s no handbook on raising children. You pass on what you think was the good and hope that it takes, that it makes a positive influence in their lives. You hope you are more of an influence than their peer group.

“He was self-medicating,” Love said about Justin. “It was Sunday the 12th, late at night. He took some sort of cocktail — we haven’t gotten the results back yet — he just didn’t wake up. When you confront it with them, they get to the age that there’s only so much you can do.”

Love said he knew some of the youths that his son did drugs with.

“I’ve looked in these kids’ eyes and they look possessed,” he said. “It’s evil. I saw one of the kids that my son used with at 11 o’clock in the morning. He was drunk. The look in his eyes said he was miserable — ‘Come be miserable with me.’” You wouldn’t believe how many kids came out of the woodwork after my son died who said they knew about his drug use.

“He got into pot in the eighth grade,” Love said about Justin, “and then transitioned to pills when he went into high school. Then they take it to the level they can’t come back from. DARE is outdated. Drugs have evolved. They’ve gotten more lethal and more dangerous. They need to be taught this at school. What’s sad is they’re not going to their parents anymore. They’re going to their peers. I call it ‘peeranting.’”

Justin was “talkative and intelligent,” Love said. As an FHS lacrosse player, “He was honored at one of the games.

“His main friend group disassociated from him,” he added. “He friend-hopped. He went from group to group. He floundered over at UT. He got into the party scene and overdosed two years ago. He eventually started working for AC Entertainment and was running for Ronnie Milsap and all the groups he loved and had great interest in, the music and the musicians. He had just gotten on and was very happy and very creative. He said his mind would stay busy and couldn’t sleep at night. Instead of going to a doctor and getting the proper diagnosis, he self-medicated.

“Drugs that kids may be using recreationally can be laced with Fentanyl. The international pharmacists are changing their compounds, so the FDA is chasing their tail.

“The U.S. is being targeted from China, Mexico and Afghanistan. ... War is being declared on us and it’s being taken out on our youth. When you start talking about suicide, substance has to be involved. You don’t go down in a dark hole without help. It can be alcohol or drugs or whatever. If you already have emotional or psychological issues, that’s a tragic cocktail.”

“I talked to Smith’s Mortuary in Maryville and my friend there said he’s been seeing an overdose every week for the past six months. All between 20 and 25 years of age. I think 33,000 deaths a year have been attributed to overdose.”