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

Hikers rescued from Mt. Proctor

Seven hikers have been rescued from a Fernie mountain by helicopter overnight.

“Bathtubs” offer solution to selenium issue

Saturated rock fills are one of two alternative water treatment technologies being investigated.

Teck report reveals noncompliances

There were 44 permit level exceedances recorded at Teck water quality monitoring sites in 2016.

115 new wildfires burning across B.C. due to 19,000 lightning strikes

More fires expected to start today, says BC Wildfire Service officials

Youth create for those less fortunate

Art auction fundraiser takes place tonight, 6-10 p.m. at the Castle on 1st.

B.C. BMX kid wows GoPro with homemade video

Eight-year-old Rex Johnson wins award for inventive video

Man missing from Fraser Valley prompts massive police operation near Grand Forks

RCMP saying little about the case of Wilfred Kilgren of Popkum who was eventually found in Creston

UPDATED: One person killed in fiery crash near Barriere

Thursday evening crash involved three large semi-trailers and a passenger vehicle

Second Narrows Bridge collapse survivor remembers tragic day

Kelowna’s Norm Atkinson remembers what it was like to survive B.C. ‘s worst industrial accident

Lions need to focus on football after disruptive fan incident: coach

Wally Buono says his players need to focus on football after defensive back Marcell Young hit a fan

Liberals set hiring, procurement rules for federally-funded projects

Indigenous Peoples, recent immigrants, veterans, young people, people with disabilities and women to be hired

Get your hot dog water, only $40 in Vancouver

‘Hot Dog Water’ seller in Vancouver gets laughs, sales with savvy marketing

Privacy questions linger two years after Canada-U.S. terror list deal struck

Two years after Canadian and U.S. security agencies signed an updated agreement officials consider privacy risk

Manitoba MP was allegedly abusive at Red Cross shelter

Canadian Red Cross has filed a complaint that Liberal backbencher MaryAnn Mihychuk ignored protocol

Most Read