Two girls died Tuesday at a Tennessee high school of suspected overdoses after taking a drug combination authorities believe included fentanyl, the latest reminder of how rampant the deadly drug has found its way to young people in recent years.
A third girl, a 17-year-old student who also overdosed at Fayette-Ware Comprehensive High School in Somerville but has since been released from a hospital, was charged as a juvenile with two counts of second-degree murder and possession of a controlled drug. substance, said District Attorney General Mark Davidson with the 25th Judicial District, which includes Fayette County. Somerville is about 45 miles northeast of Memphis.
Davidson told NBC News that while fentanyl is suspected to have played a role in the deaths of the students, ages 16 and 17, the medical examiner has yet to determine the cause and manner of their deaths.
“This case is tragic. It’s terrible,” she said. “And unfortunately, it highlights what we’ve been telling the public … about the dangers of fentanyl. How lethal it is and how prevalent it is becoming. And that if you buy any drugs on the street, whether you think it’s methamphetamine or cocaine, or a compressed pill… it very well may contain fentanyl and it may very well kill you.”
The two teenagers were found dead in a school parking lot, while the surviving teenager was unconscious, Davidson added.
No decision has yet been made on whether that teen will be charged as an adult, he said.
Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Versie R. Hamlett said in a Facebook posted Wednesday that a «terrible tragedy» occurred the previous day at the high school involving three students who were completing their junior year at the school.
The names of the students have not been released.
“First of all, we want to send our thoughts and prayers to the families of the young women who lost their lives,” the post said. “A common thread throughout our district is family. This situation has shaken our family.»
The superintendent added that district officials were working with the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and «supporting their efforts in every way possible.»
The sheriff’s office announced the Facebook Earlier this week, the deaths of minors in possible drug overdoses were announced. A third juvenile was taken to the hospital in critical condition, the sheriff’s office said.
The suspected fentanyl-related deaths of teens in Tennessee come on the heels of reports of other teen overdoses reported in communities across the country.
Nearly a dozen students spread across three schools in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District in Texas overdosed on fentanyl from September to March. Three of them died.
The overdoses were related to three people who lived a few blocks from the school, according to a federal complaint. All have been charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
Fentanyl, a highly potent and addictive synthetic opioid that can be fatal with as little a dose as tip of a pencilhas devastated adult populations for nearly a decade. He mass availability of drugs in recent years has given young people a broader path.
The monthly median fentanyl overdose deaths in people ages 10 to 19 increased 182% from July to December 2019 compared to the same period in 2021, according to a December report reportyou from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than 2,200 teens suffered a fatal overdose in the two-and-a-half-year period from July 2019 to December 2021, with fentanyl involved in 84% of the deaths, the report found.
daniella silva and safia samee ali contributed.