'All of our kids are subject to this': tainted drugs kill 16-year-old girl
Published Sunday, May 28, 2017 6:24PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, May 29, 2017 1:40PM PDT
Parents of young people killed by the overdose crisis as well as New Westminster police are warning teens and parents to watch out for lethal pills sold as MDMA after the death of a 16-year-old girl over the weekend.
Another 16-year-old girl has been hospitalized, and remains in critical condition. Both girls attended Power Alternate Secondary School in New Westminster, an alternative school with just 66 students.
The New Westminster school district has mobilized its “critical incident response plan” and will have extra staff and counsellors on hand when students return to class Monday. Officials wouldn’t confirm whether the girls attended the district’s only high school.
In a statement, the board said it held a community discussion earlier this month with parents and guardians in an effort to heighten awareness surrounding the drug crisis sweeping the province.
“We have been concerned, as are many school districts, about the current overdose crisis,” the statement reads, adding that the district is working closely with police.
“Our heartfelt condolences goes to the family and all who have known this student.”
Police have issued an urgent warning to teens and their parents because they fear more of the same deadly pills are circulating among students.
“Highschool students, you never know what drug you're actually taking. So be absolutely cautious,” Sgt. Jeff Scott told CTV Vancouver.
Initial toxicology reports show that the pills the girls purchased were not MDMA but a mixture of unknown drugs, according to police. Sgt. Scott could not confirm whether carfentanil or fentanyl were present.
The province’s ongoing overdose crisis, which used to be perceived as a problem confined to opioid users in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, has claimed the lives of several young people in the city’s suburbs.
Jaelyn Innes’ parents joined the list of those who have lost a child to the overdose crisis just a few weeks ago. Jaelyn was 21 when she died of an accidental overdose on April 27. Fentanyl was found in her toxicology report.
“I’m running across parents who are telling me ‘well my kid will never to this.’ Well guess what? That’s what we said too,” Julie Innes, Jaelyn’s mother, told CTV News.
Innes wants to see better drug education about fentanyl in schools as well as for parents.
“All of our kids are subject to this. We have a problem,” she said.
Innes stressed that parents should continue loving and supporting their kids, and not judge them for the decisions they make. That’s advice psychologist Joti Samra stands behind.
“One of the most important things we can do is talk, talk, talk with our youth. Educate them on substances, don't be shy to have the difficult conversations,” she told CTV News.
Last year, 914 people in B.C. died of illicit drug overdoses. The reports identifying which substances were in the pills the two New Westminster girls ingested are expected to come out this week.
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Sarah MacDonald.