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'It's devastating': Fentanyl believed to have killed 4 teens in Yavapai County in 2020

An anti-drug coalition in Yavapai County says the number of teens dying from fentanyl is on the rise.

YAVAPAI COUNTY, Ariz. — Four Yavapai County teens have died from Fentanyl this year, according to the medical examiner’s office.

It's an issue that an anti-drug coalition in the county says is on the rise.

"Nobody knows pain until you lose a child,” Mike Cupp said.

Hannah Cupp, Mike’s daughter, died from the drug back in March, according to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office.

“I knew immediately,” Mike said.

Hannah was just 17 years old.

“She was supposed to start cosmetology school in August,” Sommer Cupp, Mike’s wife, and Hannah’s stepmother said. “I mean, she was going places.”

Hannah is just one of the four teens this year who lost their life to the drug, according to the Yavapai County Medical Examiner.

RELATED: 14-year-old Prescott Valley girl dies after allegedly overdosing on fentanyl-laced pills

“It’s devastating what’s happening,” Merilee Fowler, executive director of MATFORCE, said.

MATFORCE is an anti-drug coalition in Yavapai County. She says between 2018 and 2019, three teens died from the drug.

With four teens confirmed to have died in 2020 alone, she believes it’s a supply of counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl that’s causing the rise in deaths.

“That one pill can have a lethal dose of fentanyl in it and people have no idea the risk they are dealing with,” Fowler said.

Which is why Jackie Hansberger, lead therapist and doctoral candidate with Adolescent Substance Abuse Program, said parents need to monitor teens' social media, where she says a majority of drug deals take place.

Hansberger suggests using a monitoring app downloaded onto the child’s phone.

Adding open communication between parent and child starts when they’re younger, and progresses as they grow up.

“Whether it’s asking if there’s drugs around them, just asking, ‘Have you ever done it?” Hansberger said.

She adds while strict boundaries and consequences need to be enforced, she recommends talking with teens from a place of care.

“Be understanding and be willing to talk to them about that why,” Hansberger said. “About why they are doing any kind of drug.”

The Cupps are hoping other parents will keep a closer eye on their teens as they’re left forever changed without Hannah.

“This beautiful amazing person that this world has no idea what they lost,” Sommer said.

More information about talking about and monitoring teen drug use is available at the National Institute of Health website, the Way Out West Coalition website or the MATFORCE website.

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