YOUR ""HEROIN HIGH'' ARTICLE SAID THAT the high number of deaths from heroin among teenagers in Plano, Texas, ""remains a mystery'' (SOCIETY, Feb. 1). A look in your archives might have led to at least one explanation. In your Aug. 15, 1983, edition, NEWSWEEK reported that suicide had become the second leading cause of death, after traffic accidents, among 15- to 19-year-old Americans and that the problem was particularly acute in fast-growing communities like Plano, Texas, a comfortable suburb of Dallas. The reasons given then for the suicides--the extreme competitiveness and extreme emptiness of Plano society--are the same reasons as those for the heroin overdoses. Teens are pressured to be the best in academics, athletics and socially. And to escape this pressure-filled environment, they have few recreational opportunities or cultural outlets in Plano: rather, teens cruise fast-food-restaurant parking lots, hang out at shopping malls and, yes, drink and do drugs. Of course, this scenario is perhaps not very different from that found in many other new, affluent neighborhoods. But Plano differs because it grew from 18,000 in 1970 to 130,000 by 1990, as a result of an influx of workers transferred into the corporations that moved to the sun belt. This leaves a community in which there is no history, no family roots, nothing to keep a teen grounded. As someone who grew up in Plano, I naturally am saddened by the rash of heroin deaths in my hometown. However, I am also angry. While certainly there needs to be a response to rampant drug-dealing, there also needs to be a hard inward look at the lack of social support that has caused Plano to suffer from two epidemics of teenage deaths.
LISA L. MAGNINO WASHINGTON, D.C.
SANDRA STOCKWELL NAPERVILLE, ILL.