Unsung Heroes: Scout saves friend from possible tragedy

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It was around 9:30 p.m. when Colton, a Scouts BSA member from Texas, gathered online with some friends — each from their own homes — to play videogames. During an otherwise routine call as the boys prepared to begin, Colton began to sense that something was wrong.

One of his friends was acting strangely and made a remark that made Colton think he could harm himself.

“My friend said he was going to OD,” Colton says.

The boy then abruptly hung up.

Some of Colton’s friends thought the boy was joking around. Colton wasn’t so sure. Colton and his friends tried several different ways to reach back out to the boy, but he did not answer.

“I didn’t like the way that conversation ended,” he says. “I couldn’t leave that alone.”

Colton begged his mom to call his friend’s father.

Colton’s mom was hesitant at first. It was, after all, kind of late on a school night, and it could be that Colton had misinterpreted the boy’s behavior.

But Colton insisted that the situation was serious, and soon enough, his mom agreed.

Recognizing a serious situation

Colton’s mom first reached out to the boy’s father via text. She told the man that Colton had been trying to reach his son and he wasn’t answering his phone, and she just wanted to make sure everything was OK.

The father called Colton’s mom, curious why they were so worried. He had just checked on his son not long ago and found him sleeping in his room.

“I was trying not to alarm him,” says Colton’s mom. “I was just asking if he could check on his son without saying why.”

Colton and his mom persisted until the man promised to go check on his son. About 30 minutes later, the man called back.

He had found his son unconscious in his room and called 911. The boy was being rushed to the hospital.

“I was worried about my friend and didn’t want him to die,” Colton says.

The man wanted to know if Colton had any more information on what his son had taken. Colton told him everything he knew, which was only that the boy had been acting strangely and made a reference to taking drugs.

Being prepared to respond

It wasn’t until the next day that Colton’s mom got an update from the boy’s father. He had survived “a miserable night” in the hospital but was going to be OK.

“He said his son is lucky to have a good friend like Colton,” says Colton’s mom. “He would not have known anything if it hadn’t been for Colton’s actions.”

Colton received the BSA’s National Certificate of Merit.

“Scouting continuously reminds us to always be looking out for one another,” says Colton. “I think, naturally people care about each other, of course, but Scouts prepares us for these emergency situations.”

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 1 in 10 young people have thought at some point about ending their life.

“I am thankful for our choice in enrolling Colton in Scouts,” says Colton’s mom. “I believe that Colton’s actions are a direct result of the Boy Scouts of America’s positive influence in Colton’s life.”

988 has been designated as the new three-digit dialing code that will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, now known as the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. If you or anyone you know is having thoughts of suicide, you can call or text 988, or chat with them online at any time. There is also a dedicated number in Spanish: 1-888-628-9454.

About Aaron Derr 454 Articles
Aaron Derr is the senior editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines, and also a former Cubmaster and Scouts BSA volunteer.