A Belmont Secondary school student has died of a suspected drug overdose, said the Sooke School District. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

Grade 10 student at B.C. high school dies from suspected overdose

A Vancouver Island school district is asking parents, guardians to speak with their children about drugs and alcohol

June is normally a time for celebration for many high school students – prom, graduation, and the end of the school year. But instead of celebrating, one local family will be burying their son.

The Grade 10 Belmont Secondary student died of a suspected overdose on Sunday, June 3. The incident did not take place on school property.

“It sucked the air out of me,” said Sooke School District superintendent Jim Cambridge. “This happens to be my last year in this role and it’s certainly not the way I wanted to end the year having a tragic incident like this … Twenty-six schools in our school district and everybody feels the loss, not just one.”

On Monday, parents and guardians of Belmont students were informed via email of the student’s death. The email identified the student, but that information was only released beyond the immediate school community. Students were also read a copy of the announcement.

Staff at the school spoke with students about the loss and the district’s critical incident team was deployed to help students cope.

RELATED: Parents grieving teen’s overdose death said it started with opioid prescription

This is the second suspected overdose death of a high school student in the Capital Region in roughly two months. In April, 16-year-old Oak Bay resident Elliot Eurchuk died after an unintentional overdose.

There have also been other deaths in recent years. In 2016, two Victoria High school students died of opioid overdoses as well. Their deaths were followed by that of 17-year-old Esquimalt teen Heather McLean, who died from an overdose during the 2017 Easter long weekend.

According to the B.C. Coroners Service, 511 people have died from overdoses in B.C. this year, with Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria seeing the highest number of deaths.

Cambridge noted while the overdose crisis has hit downtown Victoria, schools on the West Shore are now starting to see a trickle affect.

“We know that this problem is not school oriented, it’s coming down from older adults and is now trickling into schools and that’s concerning us and we want to see an end to this,” he said.

“We as parents and students don’t understand the real risks that are out there right now or the potency of the drugs that are available. I’m very concern that kids are making choices that they shouldn’t be making at 15, 16, 17 years old.”

RELATED: 511 overdose deaths in B.C. so far in 2018: coroner

To prevent another student death from occurring, Cambridge stressed the importance of parents talking openly with their children about substance abuse, including alcohol, medications and other drugs.

“Those conversations are really difficult to have many times. It requires some training, lots of parents are concerned about doing that, but it’s an important conversations to have. We know that the risk nowadays is significantly different than it has been in the past,” he said.

Some tips to help parents start the conversation with their kids include keeping the lines of communications open and have honest and non-judgmental conversations with your teen, approach the conversation with curiosity and interest, ask for their opinions, focus on your concerns for their safety, know the facts about drugs, understand and address your own fears before starting the conversation.

Counselling services are also available to students. Students, parents or guardians can make an appointment by calling the school’s office at 250-478-5501.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

City of Port Alberni agrees to three-year extension of track surface

Bob Dailey Stadium track has experienced ‘degradation and tears’ since resurfacing in 2013

Could Thunder in the Valley roar at Alberni’s airport once more?

City of Port Alberni offered Stamp Avenue as a temporary solution

John Douglas looks forward to a “healthier” Port Alberni

Douglas has resigned from his position at the Port Alberni Shelter Society to run for mayor

Alberni weightlifter heads to world championship

Dhaliwal is ranked second in the Pan Americas and fifth overall in the world

Wildfire crews gain upper hand on Arbutus Ridge fire

Controlled burning helping to contain fire: Coastal Fire Centre

‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin has died

Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn reports Franklin passed Thursday at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit

70 years after Babe Ruth’s death, fans still flock to grave

After Ruth died of throat cancer at age 53, tens of thousands of fans came to pay respects

Airbnb’s federal budget proposal tells Liberals, ‘we want to be regulated’

Submission says ‘we want to be regulated’ and asks the government to avoid forcing existing rules

Greens won’t run candidate in Burnaby South as ‘leader’s courtesy’ to Singh: May

Green Leader Elizabeth May says the decision is an extension of a ‘leader’s courtesy’

Missing B.C. hiker, dog found safe after 3-day search

Cranbrook hiker had been missing since Sunday, August 12, near Jumbo Pass.

UPDATED: B.C. RCMP dismantle Kinder Morgan protest camp

RCMP say they will enforce a court injunction today and remove Trans Mountain pipeline protesters who have been camped outside a Kinder Morgan terminal in Burnaby.

Italy says death toll will mount in Genoa bridge collapse

Authorities worried about the stability of remaining large sections of a partially collapsed bridge evacuated about 630 people from nearby apartments.

Former CIA Director: Trump worked with Russians and now he’s desperate

In an opinion piece in The New York Times, John Brennan cites press reports and Trump’s own goading of Russia during the campaign to find Democrat Hillary Clinton’s missing emails.

Church sex scandal: Abuse victims want a full reckoning

Since the crisis exploded in Boston in 2002, dioceses around the country have dealt with similar revelations of widespread sexual abuse.

Most Read