Our View | Killer drug synthetic LSD in our community

A killer is in our midst.

State College police said use of a synthetic form of the psychedelic drug LSD played a role in a Penn State student’s fatal fall early Saturday morning.

Conor F. MacMannis, 20, of Stafford, Va., died when he fell from the balcony of a ninth-story apartment at Penn Tower in downtown State College.

Police said several individuals who were in the apartment when MacMannis fell were taken to the hospital, each suffering “varying levels of severe reaction to the drug.” Some were treated for overdoses.

What a sad and completely avoidable tragedy.

Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers ruled MacMannis’ death an accident after completing an autopsy. That is technically true.

We suspect none of the people in that apartment set out to land in a hospital, suffering from hallucinations or extreme paranoia. None of them was likely seeking a high that would turn them aggressive, even combative with police.

None of them took the drug expecting to die.

But from New York to Missouri to Texas to Arizona, newspapers have been running the sad and seemingly inevitable stories that spring from the increasing popularity of this drug.

Young people are dying.

“We need the public to be aware,” State College Police Chief Tom King said. “This stuff is bad.”

Police told the Centre Daily Times they had yet to determine the exact chemical makeup of the drug used in that apartment on Saturday.

They dubbed it a synthetic compound and called the drug “acid.” Synthetic LSD is sold on small white rectangular tabs of paper, police said, and taken orally by placing a tab under the tongue.

While local police have been battling similar drugs such as synthetic marijuana and “bath salts,” this fake LSD has raised the level of concern.

“It is scary,” Michelle Ruha, a board member of the American College of Medical Toxicology, said in a recent Kansas City Star article prompted by synthetic LSD death.

“Unfortunately, kids don’t realize what they’re getting into,” Ruha said. “They don’t understand the risks.”

Police find battling synthetic drugs especially challenging because manufacturers stay ahead of the law by changing up the compounds, experts said.

And don’t think it’s just college kids who are at risk. CNN reported that the top target audience for the sale of synthetic drugs is youngsters ages 12 to 17. They get the drugs online, at parties, at school.

We urge parents to talk with their children, make sure they understand the dangers of excessive drinking, and of taking any drugs, and especially “N-bomb,” 2CI, “Smile” — all names for synthetic LSD.

A grieving mother told the New York Daily News: “My son was not a reckless person. He decided to try what he thought was acid … But he would never have tried something he knew was that dangerous.”

How tragically naïve.

Parents, make sure they know.

State College police issued a safety alert about synthetic LSD.

We implore young people — Penn State students and those in our senior and junior high schools — to heed the warning.

If you don’t, yours could be the next family grieving.