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

Chilliwack art show fundraiser, One Foot by One Foot, helps mental health community

Sales from Chilliwack Visual Artists Association show benefit two local charities

Excel Martial Arts raises more than $5,000 for family of Chilliwack man killed in workplace accident

By-donation fundraiser event helps wife, three children of 28-year-old Nathan Appleton of Chilliwack

Seven Days in Chilliwack for the week of Dec. 17

A list of community events happening in Chilliwack from Dec. 17 to 23

Chilliwack Lions Club has a new place to call home

After more than five years without a headquarters, Chilliwack Lions Club moves into new hall

Sardis Falcons top Heritage Woods in field lacrosse opener

The Falcons rallied from a halftime hole to take a big win on the road in Port Moody.

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Canucks score 3 power-play goals in 4-2 win over Oilers

Vancouver sniper Boeser has 6 goals in last 5 games

Microscopic parasite found in Prince Rupert water affecting thousands

More than 12,000 residents affected by the boil water advisory issued Dec. 14

Trudeau lashes out at Conservatives over migration “misinformation”

Warning against the “dangers of populism,” Trudeau says using immigration as a wedge political issue puts Canada’s future at risk.

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

Todd Hickling gathered donations and used gear to remove the cost barrier for kids to play hockey.

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

‘They’re coming:’ Flying cars may appear in urban skies by 2023

Air taxis will number 15,000 and become a global market worth $32 billion by 2035

B.C. VIEWS: Andrew Wilkinson on taxes, ICBC and union changes

Opposition leader sees unpredictable year ahead in 2019

5 tips for self-care, mental wellness this holiday season

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions urging British Columbians to prioritize self care through festive season

Most Read