(CBS Local) – Whenever someone young dies, it’s poignantly sad. It’s easy to feel sympathy and empathy for those effected, and it’s palpable.

In Milan, Ohio, 20-year-old Emily Cooley passed away from a drug overdose. In her obituary, her parents used the platform on their darkest day as a vessel for hope to change the fortunes of anyone else who may be headed down the same path.

“Her family wants to express to her friends that when you know something is wrong, even at the risk of losing a friendship, please reach out and speak out,” the obituary reads in the Sandusky Register. “Emily struggled with drug addiction, and even after a year in a Florida rehabilitation center she returned back to her hometown familiar friends, and overdosed.”

Kim Barman, Cooley’s mother, wants to get the conversation louder on addiction. She wants to increase awareness.

“I’ve always been vocal about (addiction). I would love to have people start talking about it. Wouldn’t you want to lose a friendship rather than a friend to an addiction?” Barman said.

Barman spoke to a health class at Cooley’s high school and hopes to have the opportunity to do more of that.

“If this only helps one person, that’s okay,” said Barman. “I want to get her story out there and we need to quit being quiet about (overdoses). It keeps happening. It’s time to talk.”

Above all, she wants kids to understand that if they say something, if they voice concerns, it literally could save a life.

“That’s what I want these kids to understand—when are they going to find it in themselves to speak up for someone who needs help?” Barman said. “Don’t be afraid of them. I guarantee they will save you down the road because you took the time to save them.”


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