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Parnell to speak at area high schools. community event

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SHIPROCK — A national speaker is returning to the Four Corners region to talk about the dangers of methamphetamine and drug abuse. His abuse of illegal substances nearly led to his death.

David Parnell will speak to the community during a free event called "Facing the Dragon" at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the San Juan College Henderson Fine Arts Center.

More than 16 years sober, Parnell speaks to audiences about the dangers of meth and other drugs, and also about his own recovery.

He'd visited the area during a trip about nine years ago. Both trips were sponsored by the Don't Meth with Us foundation.

Foundation head Paul McQueary said Parnell has a strong message for high school students preparing to graduate, and members of the community who might know someone struggling with drug use.

In high school, addicted to cocaine

Parnell told the Daily Times about some of the struggles he had while abusing drugs for more than 23 years.

He started abusing drugs as a teenager, and would get high with his father.

Parnell was being recruited to play college basketball but got addicted to cocaine during his senior year of high school.

For about seven years he was addicted to meth.

When his wife and six children were preparing to leave Parnell after a meth binge, he grabbed an SKS assault rifle and fired it while the barrel was placed under his chin.

"The bullet completely ripped my face in two," Parnell said.

While in the hospital, Parnell wrote in a note to his wife that he wanted to tell people the truth about drugs and how substance abuse nearly destroyed his life.

A long, painful recovery

It would take about eight months after he tried to end his life before he could speak again. He has undergone several reconstructive facial surgeries.

Parnell touched on these memories during a presentation this morning for Shiprock High School students at the Phil L. Thomas Performing Arts Center. 

He is also scheduled to speak to high school students in Aztec, Bloomfield and Farmington.

"I want them to learn, hopefully not to make the same mistakes I made in life," Parnell said.

Parnell uses sometimes graphic imagery during the presentation.

Photos of meth lab explosions, the effects of meth use on people and photos of himself after he'd shot himself are displayed during his speech.

He describes the graphic nature of some photos as similar to footage shot for a police or crime scene investigation TV show.

For more information about the Don't Meth With Us foundation go to http://www.dontmethwithus.com/

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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