"It's the worst experience any parent could go through. As if it's not enough to lose your son, but to have to tell your two children that they lost their brother is heart-wrenching."
- Geoff Soper, Clay's Dad
Our world changed forever in the early morning of July 18th, 2015. We never believed this could happen to our son or family. Our son’s accidental death shouldn’t have occurred. Clay died because of what he and his friends didn’t know.
Clay was 19, almost 20. He was a thriving college student home for the summer. At a party, he and his friends mixed Xanax and alcohol, which caused Clay's respiratory system and heart to stop. No one saw it coming, and no one thought Clay was in any danger that night. He and his friends made a wrong decision that is common in today's party culture. Neither Clay nor his friends knew about the risks surrounding the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs, and it cost Clay his life.
Days after Clay's death, his friends came to support one another. As they struggled to understand how this tragedy could have happened to their friend, the phrase "he didn't know ... we didn't know" was repeated over and over. The idea of producing a documentary about how tragedy can happen to anyone was born. Clay's friends needed his death to have a purpose and for people to know and learn from their loss. They wanted to tell their story truthfully and differently. They wanted it to resonate with their contemporaries and capture the attention of other teens.
The documentary program "If They Had Known" is not about drug addiction or substance abuse. It is an honest account of avoidable death. The film, combined with the Program Toolkit, catalyzes peer-to-peer discussions about the dangers surrounding the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs and provides our teens with crucial information. Clay's friends and family narrate the film; the life-saving message comes from Clay's friends and peers, not actors. The takeaway is genuine and impactful. When students view this film, they watch their world on the screen, which rattles them.
Until the documentary program "If They Had Known," educational information about the dangers of misusing and abusing prescription drugs was not readily available, and the risks were unknown. Kids and teenagers are more medicated now than any other previous generation. The lack of knowledge surrounding prescription drug risks puts our kids at risk.
Educating, engaging, and empowering our youth with information is our mission. In the documentary program "If They Had Known," we are reaching teens and educating them about the risks of recreationally misusing and abusing prescription pills:
Misusing or abusing prescription drugs can be fatal
Prescription drugs are not for partying or self-medicating
Be aware of the consequences of a toxic mix
Don't hesitate to get help if someone needs it, every minute counts
Remember how your choices will impact everyone around you
"If They Had Known" is a program of the Clay Soper Memorial Fund. The Clay Soper Memorial Fund, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, was established in 2016 by Clay's family; Geoff, Genny, Ted, and Allie Soper. The Soper family shares their story to honor Clay's life and prevent other families from experiencing the same tragedy.