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David Parnell to speak about his battle against meth

David Parnell knows first-hand the dangers of methamphetamine.

And on Monday night, the Martin, Tenn., man will speak to the Bemidji community about his personal battle against meth that almost took his life with a suicide attempt.

Parnell will present "Facing the Dragon: One Man's Battle Against Methamphetamine" from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Bemidji High School Auditorium. His presentation, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Bemidji Area Task Force on Underage Drinking, Illegal Drug Use and Youth Violence, and the Bemidji School District.

According to event organizers, Parnell's presentation is not suitable for young children.

In a telephone interview from his home, Parnell, who will also speak to BHS students Tuesday morning at the high school, said his wish is to share his message with every junior high and senior high school student in the United States.

"We've actually done around 100 presentations in Minnesota," said Parnell, who has presented his program in some communities in the area in the past two and a half years.

On Monday night, Parnell said he will speak on the topics of meth use, meth nicknames, meth paraphernalia, the dangers of producing meth, different colors of meth, violence as a result of meth use and the true victims of meth - children.

"And then I'll go and talk about my personal experience with meth," he said.

According to his biography, Parnell used drugs for 23 years, seven of which were spent using meth. He has been clean for more than three years after attempting suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot to his face.

He said he will share before-and-after photos of himself and others, as well as photos taken by law enforcement at the scene of his attempted suicide.

Also, he said he will offer tips on how to approach a "tweaker" - a person who's really high on meth.

At his presentation Monday night, Parnell said he hopes to not only reach youth, but parents and grandparents.

He said he hopes to educate youth to make a wise decision if they are offered meth and that they could get hooked on meth the first time they try it. And, he added, he believes that if they continue to use meth, it will cut their lives short.

Meanwhile, he said he hopes to educate parents and grandparents about the signs of meth use and meth paraphernalia. Treatment, he noted, can be very successful if started in the early stages of meth use.

Parnell said he doesn't sugarcoat his presentations. He noted that youth who have attended past presentations have told him that they appreciate his honesty.

"I just put it out there and show the ugliness that it really is," Parnell added.