Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Teen accused of crashing car while huffing

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Police say mom tried to remove evidence against daughter

The mother of a Spartanburg teenager accused of huffing compressed air before crashing a friend's car Sunday has joined her daughter in jail.
Kelly Hewitt Furr (left), 39, of 240 S. Main St., Clifton, was charged with accessory after the fact to a felony Friday on allegations she removed the cans of air from the car in an attempt to hide evidence. Three passengers injured in the wreck remained hospitalized Friday, one of whom has yet to regain consciousness.
Furr's daughter, Heather Brooke Hewitt, 19, of 1451 Old Pacolet Road is being held at the Spartanburg County Detention Facility with bond set at $25,000 on two counts of felony driving under the influence. Furr's bond was set at $40,000.
According to prosecutors, Hewitt was huffing the canned air to get high - also known as dusting - when she crashed a 1997 Toyota Camry into a truck Sunday afternoon on Beacon Light Road near Cowpens. Her mother came to the scene of the crash and removed several cans from the vehicle, Principal Deputy Solicitor Barry Barnette said during a Friday bond hearing for Furr.
"She said, 'I know she's been dusting! I know she's been dusting!' " Barnette said. " ... She knew what was in the car, and she took care of it."
Witnesses said Furr also showed little concern for those injured in the crash and refused to ride in the ambulance with her daughter to the hospital, Barnette said.
Furr puzzled by charge
Furr said little during the hearing but told the judge she didn't understand the charge against her.
"That's what upsets me," she said.
One of Hewitt's five passengers, Jamie Maxwell, 23, of Roebuck suffered closed head injuries and remains unconscious at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center. Maranda Poteet, 17, of Inman suffered severe facial injuries, is blind in the left eye and is listed in serious condition at the hospital. A third passenger, Kelly Collins, 21, of Roebuck is in fair condition at Spartanburg Regional, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Hewitt was released from the hospital Thursday and taken to jail. If released on bond, she is to remain on home detention. Conditions of Furr's bond include no contact with any witness or victim in the crash, including her daughter, if released.
Barnette said Hewitt had a past conviction for disturbing schools, and State Law Enforcement Division records show Furr has a previous conviction for criminal domestic violence.
Inhaling compressed air, which is sold to clean computer keyboards and electronics and used by some teens as a quick high, contains chemicals that can cause organ damage and death through suffocation.

By Rachel E. Leonard
taken from the Spartanburg Herald Journal

Friday, October 05, 2007

"Huffing" Linked With Suicidal Behavior in Incarcerated Teens

Inhaling, or "huffing," the vapors of common household solvents strongly correlates with suicidal thoughts and behavior among adolescents.
That’s what researchers found in a study of 723 incarcerated youth--the first work to categorize inhalant use into levels of severity and relate this to suicidal ideas and suicide attempts in incarcerated juveniles. It is also one of the few studies to examine gender differences involved.
"Inhalant Use and Suicidality among Incarcerated Youth," by Dr. Stacey Freedenthal and Dr. Jeffrey M. Jenson, both of the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work, Dr. Michael G. Vaughn of the University of Pittsburgh, and Dr. Matthew O. Howard of the University of North Carolina, appears in the September 2007 issue of the academic journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
The investigators found an increase in suicidal thoughts and attempts with higher levels of use of volatile solvents. In fact, the majority of those in the sample who had been serious abusers prior to incarceration reported having tried to kill themselves at some point.
The researchers did not seek to determine which problem came first, the huffing or the suicidality, but showed that the two are connected, even when accounting for other factors.
The study points out that suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents in the U.S., and that the rates of suicide attempts appear to be very much higher for those who use inhalants than for those who do not.
The study categorized inhalant use into three levels: no use, use without dependence or abuse, and use with a diagnosis of dependence or abuse. The research controlled for factors such as alcohol and other drug use, psychiatric disturbances, and trauma to see if these accounted for the suicidal behavior, but the link specifically between higher levels of inhalant use and suicidality remained distinct for both genders.
The most startling numbers related to girls, revealing a history of suicide attempts among 81.3 percent of those who abused or were dependent on inhalants, with boys in the same category at 59.5 percent.
"Girls' problems tended to be more severe," Dr. Freedenthal says. "For participants who reported dependence or abuse of inhalants, rates of suicide attempts were dramatically higher for girls. However, prior research indicates that while girls attempt suicide more often than boys do, boys actually die by suicide at higher rates."
The study also indicated that suicidal thoughts were much higher for girls than for boys. Suicidal thoughts and attempts were considered two separate constructs, since thoughts do not always lead to attempts, and attempts are not always preceded by much thought.
The study involved 723 participants incarcerated by the Missouri Division of Youth Services, 33 percent of whom reported having inhaled volatile solvents. Twenty-five percent had attempted suicide, and 58 percent reported suicidal thoughts.
Fifty-three percent were from urban or suburban environments, and 47 percent were from rural areas or small towns. Fifty-five percent were white, 33 percent were black, and nearly 12 percent were other races. There were 629 boys and 94 girls. The average age was 15.
Participants were asked if they had huffed any of 35 common household substances, such as paint, paint thinner, glue, shoe polish, spot remover, floor polish, kerosene, gasoline, antifreeze, permanent markers, nail polish, nail polish remover, mothballs, waxes, lighter fluid, and others.
Study participants comprised 97.7 percent of all residents in Missouri's youth incarceration facilities at the time the data were collected, and 55 percent of all youth committed in Missouri that year.
"The very high proportion interviewed is an important distinction of our study. Researchers usually examine a small sample and extrapolate the results to a much larger population, but we interviewed nearly all adolescents incarcerated in juvenile detention centers in Missouri at that time," says Dr. Freedenthal. "This means our study is very closely representative of that state's incarcerated youth."
In light of their findings, the researchers recommend that professionals who deal with troubled youth ask both about solvent use and suicidality when assessing patients for either, because each may be a warning sign for the other. However, Dr. Freedenthal and her co-authors acknowledge that their findings may not apply to non-incarcerated youth. She says future research should look at community samples, as well as samples with different proportions of gender, race, ethnicity, and type of community (rural vs. urban).
Future research should also explore whether inhalant use precedes the suicidality or vice versa to determine if one causes the other, and the specific ways the two issues relate to each other, she says.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Wendy's Ad Generates Complaints

NEW YORK (Associated Press) - Hamburger chain Wendy's International Inc. is getting complaints that its TV commercial showing floating customers who apparently inhaled helium sends the wrong message to children about inhalants.
The ad shows customers standing next to a pressurized tank talking in high-pitched voices and floating to the ceiling. "Filling up with just anything, that's wrong," says the ad, which began airing a few weeeks ago.
Wendy's spokesman Bob Bertini said Wednesday the company has taken a small number of calls and no plans to pull the ad.
Bertini said the ad clearly depicts an absurd scene. "It's a situation that is not real because people don't float on the ceiling," he said.
Harvey Weiss, director of the National Inhalant Prevention Council, a Texas-based organization that works to discourage the practice of "huffing" inhalants to get high, said the ad can give kids "inappropriate ideas."
"Kids get the idea it's OK to put a gas in your body," Weiss said.
Inhaling helium is not as dangerous as other gases, but it can be hazardous if inhaled from a tank.
About 20 people contacted Weiss to complain about the ad, including a woman in Pennsylvania whose son died from inhalants and a safety prevention officer who works with police in Michigan.
The organization has since sent an advisory to about 10,000 people and asked them to contact Wendy's, based in this Columbus suburb.
Other companies have pulled ads in the past that made reference to inhalants, Weiss said. "It seems like every couple of years I see something like this," he said.
FedEx Corp. pulled a commercial that debuted during the Super Bowl in 2000 after receiving complaints that it may give youngsters the impression that it was OK to "huff" inhalants.
Taken from