B.C. Representative for Children and Youth Jennifer Charlesworth (Black Press files)

Drug-related deaths double for B.C. youth in care, advocate says

Teens say positive connections with adults key to recovery

Twice as many young people in B.C. government care died of overdoses in 2017 compared to the previous year, according to a new report from Representative for Children and Youth Jennifer Charlesworth.

The 24 youth between age 10 and 18 who died of drug overdoses last year is more than the previous three years combined, and reflects the opioid overdose wave that resulted in 1,452 total deaths in B.C. in 2017. The report also shows drug-related critical injuries nearly doubled in the same time among young people in contact with Ministry of Children and Family Development.

Charlesworth continued the work of previous representatives with a report called Time to Listen: Youth Voices on Substance Use, released Thursday. It analyzed 154 critical injury and death reports, and set up focus groups with 100 young people around the province.

Charlesworth recommended the ministries of health, children and families and the new mental health and addictions ministry develop a “full spectrum of youth-specific harm reduction services, including youth-specific spaces for supervised consumption, that is embedded in a system of wraparound services and supports.”

“A key central theme of these findings is the importance of positive connections to the lives of youth who use substances that can increase health and wellness outcomes,” Charlesworth wrote. “When youth have strong connections to supportive adults and peers, early access to community supports such as schools, mental health and harm reduction services, and to culture, they are more likely to develop coping mechanisms and find protective factors in their lives that reduce barriers to safer substance use.”

Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy said she gets the message that the ministries need to work together better to support young people in crisis and using drugs.

“We have heard from youth and families about how difficult it is to access information about available services and to navigate a fragmented and confusing system,” Darcy said Thursday. “We recognize the importance of a seamless and co-ordinated system of care where every door is the right door and a single point of access for youth and all British Columbians, connecting them to all available mental health and substance use services.”

RELATED: Youth agency closes after staff gave drugs to teens

RELATED: B.C. MLAs choose new children’s watchdog

The injury and death case review found that 86 per cent of youth had experienced at least one traumatic event in their lives.

“In almost every focus group, the first reason youth gave for using substances was ‘to numb’ emotional pain caused by events in their lives, or from past trauma,” the report states.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

“Does Kirby care?” Heiltsuk Nation using geo-targeted ads in Houston, Texas for justice

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

“No excuse” for killing of two young grizzly cubs

Reader hopeful someone will come forward with information

UPDATE: U.S. firm fined $2.9M for fuel spill that soiled B.C. First Nation territory

The Nathan E. Stewart spilled 110,000 litres of diesel and heavy oils in October 2016

No delivery services hard on local families

New parents Candace Knudsen and Bjorn Samuelsen spent five weeks away from home

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Body, burning truck found near northern B.C. town

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

UPDATE: West Kelowna fawn euthanized, not claimed by sanctuary

Gilbert the deer has been euthanized after a suitable home was not found in time

BC Wildfire Service warns wet weather no reason to be complacent

Fire risk currently low for much of B.C. compared to same time over last two years.

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

B.C. man pleads guilty in snake venom death of toddler

Plea comes more than five years after the incident in North Vancouver

Trudeau says Ottawa open to proposals for B.C. refinery as gas prices soar

Prime minister says he knows B.C. residents are struggling and the federal government is open to ideas

Clock’s ticking to share how you feel about Daylight Saving Time in B.C.

Provincial public survey ends at 4 p.m. on Friday

Most Read