12-year-old becomes youngest person to die of overdose in B.C. during pandemic
VICTORIA -- Adriana Londono is trying to come to terms with the fact that she will never get to see her 12-year-old daughter again.
“She was too young to go,” said Londono.
Her daughter Ally died of a suspected fentanyl overdose on April 14.
“I was told that she was the youngest to die from an overdose from fentanyl since the COVID crisis began,” Londono said.
The BC Coroners Service is still investigating the cause of death, and says the youngest person to die during B.C.'s overdose crisis was 13 years old.
News of the unthinkably young victim has also reached B.C.’s top doctor.
“It’s just a horrendous tragedy when young people die unnecessarily,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer. “And during this period of time, we know how toxic the street drug supply is.”
Ally was a Grade 6 student in the Greater Victoria School District.
“We know kids experiment, but we want prevent, delay or reduce substance use,” said Harold Caldwell, associate superintendent for the Greater Victoria School District.
The district says it has counselors in the school system that are trained in substance use and, if students choose, they can be referred to Island Health’s Discovery counselling program for additional help.
“The reality is is that drugs are available for people to access,” said Guy Felicella, peer clinical advisor for the BC Centre for Substance Use. “It doesn’t matter how old you are.”
Felicella is a former addict who now works within school systems in the Lower Mainland, educating teens on harm reduction. He says federal and provincial gaps in the system are costing people their lives.
“We need treatment on demand in both circumstances,” said Felicella. “One for safer supply and one for people to get off of substances as well.”
Ally’s mother says her daughter started using drugs in the fall of 2019. That resulted in three separate overdoses. That’s when Adriana tried to get her daughter into rehab.
“I reached out to the ministry and I told my mom,” said Adriana. “We were trying to find a place for her to go and they said there was nowhere for her to go because she was too young.”
“So they would just refer us to counselors.”
Adriana wants to see a change when it comes to helping teens who need help.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re not 14, you still need help and I think she’s way to young to die,” said Adriana. “So she doesn’t need to be 14 to be in a treatment program, she needs the help now.”
Unfortunately for Ally, help didn’t come in time.