When Sam Elder’s best friend died due to an opioid overdose two years ago, she made it a mission to raise awareness of the issue and educate others on preventing it.
Elder and Damian Tracey, both grade 12 students at Belmont Secondary School in Langford organized an outreach program last week at the wellness centre at their school aimed at preventing opioid overdoses.
The students said they were impressed by the turnout — 133 staff and students showed up and 62 kits were distributed.
“We had an astounding amount of support. Not only from students, but also teachers and other community members. It was absolutely incredible,” said Elder.
“I think everyone enjoys being able to learn this stuff because then they won’t feel scared,” said Tracey.
With fentanyl overdoses on the rise in the province, experts say it’s more important than ever to pick up a naloxone kit.
“Naloxone kits with naloxone training can be incredibly impactful and you never know when you might use it,” said Shyla Genoway, a nurse practitioner at the wellness centre at Belmont Secondary School.
“It can be life-saving,” she added.
According to the BC Coroners Service, there were 176 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths province-wide in April, making it the largest number of suspected deaths ever recorded for the month and the highest one-month total since May 2020.
Victoria continues to be one of the hardest-hit areas in the province when it comes to drug overdose deaths. There were 175 deaths recorded during a 16 month period spanning from January 2020 until April 2021 — only Vancouver and Surrey recorded more deaths during the same period.
Vanessa White, the district principal for a safe and healthy school for the Sooke School District, said the issue isn’t limited to just one age group.
“It’s definitely an issue for all age groups. We’re not only thinking of students who may be using, but students go home to homes where family members may be using. They may have friends out of school who may be using,” said White.
Provincial data suggests that indeed the problem is not just limited to a particular age group. In April — the most recent month of data available — there was at least one illicit drug overdose death recorded in every single age category except for the 70-79 cohort.
Meanwhile, Elder and Tracey hope to keep their friend’s legacy alive.
“She would be very happy. [She] was one of the most supportive people I ever met. She, herself, wanted to be a nurse. She helped people whenever she could,” said Elder.
“I think she would be very, very to know that she’s still continuing to help people to this day,” she continued.
Two more schools are scheduled for naloxone training in the capital region with plans to expand to other schools around the Island in the near future.
With the opioid crisis still rampant in BC, more young people want to learn how to help stop it. A team of students at Belmont Secondary School launched an outreach program aimed at preventing opioid overdoses. The students say they were inspired by the loss of their friend. pic.twitter.com/kGITOnsGPj
— Tahmina Aziz (@tahmina_aziz) June 23, 2021