New Lifeline Law campaign launched as school year begins

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Thousands of students at college campuses across Indiana will be blasted with a new message about underage drinking and staying alive.

The new statewide effort will teach kids about the dangers of binge drinking. It’s an issue I-Team 8 first took Hoosiers inside of two years ago.

College kids are glued to their phones and social media. Starting Monday, that phone will help teach a life lesson on 13 Indiana college campuses.

Brett Finbloom

The public awareness campaign includes testimonials from parents who have lost a child due to underage binge drinking. One ad begins, “I’m Dawn Finbloom and my son Brett died from drinking too much too fast. Everyone at the party was underage and afraid to call for help.”

Many first learned of Lifeline two years ago as I-Team 8 went on an emotional journey with the Finbloom family and their efforts to help families. At a press conference announcing the launch of the public awareness campaign Dawn Finbloom said, “Just last week I was personally contacted by an Indiana mother. Her child had just returned to college and drank too much too fast. Fortunately they lived.”

The message

The campaign works through cell towers creating a digital dome over the campuses. Two million messages will be blasted out in the next three weeks. When students get on the Internet at school they’ll see information about Lifeline on Facebook, YouTube and Pandora. Messages like: Make Good Decisions, Stay, Call, Cooperate.

There are also radio ads where students debate calling for help. Below is one of those scripts:

“What are we going to do?”

“Maybe we should call for help.”

“Yeah right, I’m not dealing with that.”

“Don’t pass by on the passed out. With Indiana’s Lifeline Law you can make the call without fear of prosecution.”

“Every 44 hours a college age person dies from alcohol poisoning.”

The law

Senator Jim Merritt authored the law and launched the social media campaign.

“Every year, every year there will be a 17- or 18-year-old silly freshman who binge drinks who doesn’t know the Lifeline Law and could pay the ultimate price we have seen,” Merritt said.

Lifeline offers immunity to the friend calling for help and the person in need whether from drinking or drugs.

“Someone who has been the victim of sexual assault, under 21 and is inebriated themselves,” Merritt said, “and may question, ‘Should I call?’”

Merritt explained with the Lifeline Law.

“They all make mistakes,” he said. “This is a teaching moment. Not a prosecutorial moment.”

Merritt wants to use social media to make sure the kids understand, “the bottom line is making the call. Having the courage to make the call and save a life.”

“We’re doing a good job getting the word out,” Brett’s mom says two years later. “We need to do a great job. We can’t lose any more young Hoosiers lives.”

The call

Eight families say their child was saved because the kids at the party knew of the Lifeline Law and called. If you’re a parent of a middle, high school or college student take a moment now to talk to them about the Lifeline Law.

134 Indiana college students were busted by State Excise Police this weekend for underage drinking.

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