As heroin’s hold on the Tri-State tightens, an Evansville small business owner with a unique perspective wants to do what she can to curb the crisis.
Stacia Osborne-Christian, the owner of Osborne Funeral Home near downtown Evansville, helped plan a informational forum on the heroin crisis gripping the city and the Midwest. According to the Vanderburgh County Coroner’s Office, there have been at least 15 fatal heroin-related overdoses so far in 2016, an increase of 650% over the past two years.
Osborne Funeral Home has hosted the services of seven of this year’s overdose victims, Osborne-Christian said.
“I’ve been in funeral service for 20 years. I probably haven’t had as many overdose deaths in the 20 years I’ve been in service as I’ve had just this year,” Osborne-Christian said. “Addicts are in three-piece suits with Johnston & Murphy [shoes] on and cuff links as well as laying on the sidewalk.”
Osborne-Christian, who also works part time for the coroner’s office, said heroin addiction transcends any possible stereotype. Those addicted to the extremely dangerous drug can be young and old, male or female and rich or poor.
Osborne-Christian has also noticed heroin becoming more prevalent in minority communities.
“I think we tend to bury our heads in the sand a lot because [we think] it’s not in our backyard,” Osborne-Christian said. “You might not know that you know somebody with an addiction.”
At 6 o’clock Thursday evening, Osborne-Christian will host an informational forum on the growing heroin crisis at Memorial Baptist Church. Chief Deputy Coroner Steve Lockyear will be the keynote speaker. The public is welcome to attend.
What spurred Osborne-Christian’s decision to spearhead the forum was one particular image that is now burned in her mind.
“I [saw] some little eyes, a daughter, an eight-year-old daughter. I just looked in her little eyes while she was leaving something in her dad’s casket. That was the breaking point,” Osborne-Christian said. “[Addicts] don’t intend to hurt family members. They’re doing what they’re doing because that’s what they enjoy doing. They don’t realize how many more [people] they take away with them.”
Running a funeral home is undoubtedly a difficult job filled with difficult moments. Comforting a grieving family is no easy task. The families whose loved ones died from an overdose have a wide variety of emotions, Osborne-Christian said.
“I’ve seen what it does; how it affects everybody,” Osborne-Christian said. “I see the faces of the children left behind, the anguish of the parents left behind. It’s created a generation where parents are burying their children at a faster rate than children are burying their parents.
You’ve got so many emotions. [The families say] how come I let it go this far? How come I didn’t see this? You know addicts are very creative. You see what they want you to see.”
Osborne-Christian isn’t naive in thinking the forum will eliminate the heroin epidemic completely. But if one life is changed, she said it will be entirely worth it.
“If I could solve it I would be a rich person,” Osborne-Christian said. “I can’t. But every problem starts with somebody taking one step toward solving it. If this is one little step, That’s fine.”