Landen Hausman’s family hope sharing story of overdose will help others

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Photos courtesy of Marc Hausman

Marc and Hilary Hausman weren’t completely blindsided by their son’s death.

Landen, 16, had struggled for years with depression and anxiety and first turned to drugs and alcohol in eighth grade. He had been in rehab and had gotten professional help, and it looked like he was doing better.

But in the early morning hours of January 17, Marc found Landen dead on the bathroom floor. The night before he had crushed and snorted what he thought was a Percocet pill. He was dead within minutes and an autopsy later revealed the pill was counterfeit, containing fentanyl, a powerful opioid that is up to 100 times stronger than morphine.

When many opted for confidentiality, the Hausmans were transparent, openly sharing that Landen died of a drug overdose and discussing his many struggles with mental illness and addiction.

On the day of Landen’s death, Marc posted on Facebook the announcement of his death. Even then, he shared the cause.

In the days that followed, Marc shared even more. About 450 people gathered at a memorial service and listened to him talk about the last moments he had with Landen – a 10-minute recording when Landen returned from a weekend – and the chaotic scene and bloody where he found his son dead in the family bathroom.

The story is shocking. But there is a purpose in sharing.

“When someone dies of a drug overdose or suicide, or something else that society deems inappropriate, the natural tendency is to hide it, because it’s kind of a reflection on the person or on the family, and it’s something that is perceived as a weakness,” Marc Hausman said in an interview. “But when Landen died, we decided to go the other way because the reality is that depression and alcohol and drug abuse are not unique to Landen, and I want people, especially young people, to understand that… more often than not you make the wrong choice and you will get a second chance , but sometimes you don’t.

Fentanyl overdoses in Maryland have increased in recent years, consistent with national trends. In 2013, 58 fentanyl-related deaths were recorded in the state, according to the Maryland Department of Health. In 2020, the most recent data available, there were 2,342 deaths from fentanyl.

Landen Hausman was a member of the Whitman High basketball team.

Montgomery County police last week announced they arrested 23-year-old Mikiyas Maryie Kefalew and charged him with selling Landen the counterfeit Percocet pill containing fentanyl in the days before her death. Police said last week that Kefalew could face further charges as the investigation continues.

If Kefalew is found guilty, Marc said, he hopes he “will use the consequences of his decision to put himself on a better path and make better choices.”

“No matter how it goes, that person is going to get another chance that Landen didn’t have,” he said. “Our hope is with that person, if this turns out to be true, that they realize they have a second chance and will do the right thing, and make them a more productive person who contributes really to society in a positive way.”

Trust

For years, Landen struggled with anxiety, depression and substance abuse, Marc said. He had already injured himself and spent time in rehab.

When he returned home, he resumed classes at Walt Whitman High, and his parents thought he was doing better. He had a close-knit group of friends and he was on the basketball team, which provided some structure. Marc and Hilary performed daily “wellness checks” with Landen and weekly physical checks to ensure he was in good health.

When Landen returned from a ski trip the evening of January 16, he got in touch with Marc and talked for about 10 minutes. He seemed happy, Marc said, and “we thought he was on the right track”.

But when Landen said “good night,” he went to the bathroom, and while he was getting ready to take a shower, he crushed and snorted the pill. He was dead within minutes, Marc said.

Marc found him early the next morning and his eldest son helped perform CPR while waiting for medics to arrive, but it was too late.

The family later discovered, while cleaning Landen’s room, that he had always used drugs and alcohol before his death.

Marc said he felt “betrayed” but accepted the family was engaged and did what they could to help Landen. In the end, he just made a bad call, Marc said.

“You do what you can and set parameters and goals, but at the end of the day you can’t lock them in and you have to trust them. So we trusted Landen,” said Marc. “He breached that trust, and the result led to his father finding him dead on his bathroom floor covered in blood.

“I don’t think he wanted to die that night. He wasn’t like, “Dude, I’m gonna snort some fentanyl and see what happens,” but he chose to snort this Percocet, and ultimately that choice led to his death.

Community support

Landen died Jan. 17, the day before Whitman’s basketball team was scheduled to play at Watkins Mill High School.

Landen was close to his teammates and they were devastated by his death. But they played the game that week.

Landen was announced as the starter for the junior varsity game, so Whitman had only four players on the field at the time of kickoff. It was arranged for Whitman to take the tip, both teams knelt and the gymnasium took a moment of silence in memory of Landen.

Whitman’s head basketball coach, Chris Lun, said he’s known Landen since he was in third grade and watched him grow and mature. He said Landen was always excited about playing and was known for his “crazy, game-winning deep shots.”

“Maybe Landen’s legacy could be for other high school students to learn from this and not let this happen to them, and that’s all we can really hope for,” Lun said. adults, we will continue to do our best to educate them on how to make good decisions.”

The Rockville High School basketball team attended Landen’s celebration of life (Marc’s oldest son, Hunter, is a senior there and plays on the team).

Whitman’s principal, Robby Dodd, remembered Landen, a sophomore, as “brilliant and charismatic”, with a “great sense of humor”. He had a lot of academic potential and was starting to realize it, Dodd said.

He called Landen’s death a “punch” that sent shockwaves through the school community of more than 2,000 students.

But, he said, family openness, coupled with school-based drug awareness and prevention programs, could save lives.

The week before spring break, about three months after Landen’s death, Whitman hosted several addiction prevention events as part of his first-ever “IMPACT Week,” a reminder that “your choices can have a big impact. “Dodd said.

“It was educational for the community for all of us to understand the dangers of drug use and what it can cost, and it cost us Landen,” Dodd said in an interview Friday. “I would never want to make the tragic loss of his life any kind of positive thing, but everything I think we do as the Whitman community from now on has to do with helping children make good choices for themselves. their well-being, the loss of Landen and how he died and the lessons we had to learn from that is something that I think will have a positive impact.

“People who will never be the same”

When the Hausmans first announced that Landen had died of a drug overdose, they didn’t know what kind of reaction they would get.

A video of Marc speaking at Landen’s celebration of life gained traction on social media, and a post he wrote on his LinkedIn page garnered nearly 2,000 comments.

The reactions have been almost universally positive, Marc said, aside from some trying to politicize the death. But more than that, people said they were grateful and felt empowered to share their own stories or talk with loved ones about difficult topics.

It makes the family feel like Landen’s life had meaning, that maybe his death could prevent someone else’s.

“People always ask me: if I could go back and have that last conversation with Landen – I spoke to him 10 minutes before he died – what would I say? And the answer is very simple, ”said Marc, moved. “I would tell him he’s important, and if you make a bad decision, sometimes you don’t get a second chance. And there are people who will never be the same again.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at [email protected]

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