It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. Receiving a call or message to say that your teenager has drunk too much – or taken drugs – and is unresponsive.
But it was the nightmarish reality for a Massachusetts, US, mother just a couple of weeks ago on a Saturday night - when she was told her usually responsible 15-year-old daughter Ryleigh was unconscious. The lifeless body of her beautiful daughter was driven to Melissa Aho's house soon after 1am; she was frothing at the mouth and covered in vomit. An ambulance was called and Ryleigh's life hung in the balance for an agonising 14 hours. She had been binge drinking a brand of vodka popular among her friends.
"Pleading and begging for my daughter's life, I experienced flashbacks from the moment she was born, to her first smile and giggle, the first time she said 'Mumma', her first step, her 1st birthday, her first day of school, her first friendship, sleepover, sickness, her graduation of middle school, our private mother-daughter moments, laughing, joking, running, snuggling and so forth," Melissa wrote on Facebook in the days that followed, a post that has since gone viral. Thankfully, Ryleigh pulled through.
The warning to teenagers and parents - which features harrowing photos of Ryleigh on life support - has been shared more than 46,000 times.
"I'm sharing our experience so that EVERY TEEN who may come to be in this situation knows... you will NOT get in trouble for getting someone help!!!! You have the ability to SAVE a precious life!!!!! So please reach out and get help no matter what the circumstances," writes Melissa.