He is being described as a brilliant, hilarious, happy young man who wanted to be a physics teacher. But 23-year-old Dan Sealey also struggled with mental illness and addiction.

B.C. agriculture minister and Saanich South MLA Lana Popham posted on Facebook this weekend that Sealey, the son of her fiance, had died from an accidental overdose.

The death was being felt by Popham’s colleagues in the B.C. Legislature Monday.

“The loss in Minister Popham’s family is heartbreaking, she’s asked for privacy at this time and we ask that everyone respect that,” said Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy.

Darcy says Sealey is one of more than 1100 people who have died from overdose so far this year in B.C. and she promises more help is coming.

“We are renewing our efforts we are escalating our response to the overdose crisis every month, every week, every single day,” Darcy said.

But so far the death tally isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. While the large majority of people dying are men between 19 and 59 years old, they come from any and all backgrounds.

“Not just people who are street entrenched, people who come from well-off families and people who are even super connected in the community,” said counsellor and social worker with Foundry Victoria Lorna Mace.

Mace says many parents may be afraid to talk to their kids about substance use or unsure of what to say. She says just simply asking about it, without judgement, is the best thing you can do.

“Trying to reduce stigma and shame around substance use is probably one of the best ways to open the conversation up,” she said.

She says if you’re using there are a growing number of services out there to help.

“Reach out try not to isolate, talk to your friends, talk to your family if you feel comfortable doing that if not come and talk to one of us,” Mace said.

Friends and family of Dan Sealey are now fighting through their tragedy to try to prevent others. They’ve started a Facebook fundraiser in Sealey’s name, raising thousands to help others out there who are struggling.

Resources for mental health & addictions services on Vancouver Island:

Foundry Victoria https://foundrybc.ca/victoria

Victoria Youth Clinic www.victoriayouthclinic.ca

Substance Use Counselling for Youth and Families – Island Health

https://www.islandhealth.ca/our-services/youth-substance-use-services/youth-family-substance-use-services/discovery-youth-family-substance-use-services

Mental Health Counselling for Youth – MCFD – Child and Youth Mental Health

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/mental-health-substance-use/child-teen-mental-health/mental-health-intake-clinics

Umbrella Substance Use Support and Education

https://www.umbrellasociety.ca/

Mental Health Support for Families

http://www.familysmart.ca/

 

April Lawrence