The death of another youth on Vancouver Island from an alleged drug overdose has renewed the call for more resources and treatment options for teens.
Bella Jones, 17, died last week in Nanaimo. She had been living on the streets since the age of 13 and had long struggled with drug addiction.
“She was a ray of sunshine for everyone; everyone loved Bella. Biggest Heart of Gold, ”Tanya Hiltz, president of the Wisteria Community Association and friend of Jones, told Global News.
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“We need to save more of these children instead of losing them… The system is failing them all. We need more drug treatment centers, we need more people on the streets to help them.
Jones’ mother told Global News she was so desperate to find help for her daughter that she turned her care over to the Child and Family Development Department for several years, hoping that he could do more to help her.
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Jones is the second Vancouver Island youth to die in recent weeks of a suspected drug overdose. On April 14, 12-year-old Allayah Thomas was killed as a result of drugs. Her mother told Global News she had not been able to find a rehabilitation center that would accept a person under the age of 14.
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British Columbia Minister of Mental Health and Addiction Sheila Malcolmson called the death a “tragic loss” on Friday as the province launched a new app called “Foundry BC,” designed to connect young people in 12 to 24 year old mental health and addiction use supports.
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While the app is good news for many youth struggling with drug problems, it may not be able to meet the needs of particularly high-risk teens.
British Columbia doctor says it’s time to revisit the NDP’s proposed Bill 22, which would give health officials the power to keep young people in hospital without their consent while they are recovering from drug overdose.
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“We think they should be admitted,” said pediatrician Dr Tom Warshawki.
“It should be done in a benevolent way, like, ‘Whoa, you almost died, what can we do to make this safer?’ Ideally enter into treatment. If nothing else, use more safely. “
Hiltz said something like that could have saved Jones, or at least given him a better chance.
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Instead, she is mourned by her community.
“This one struck home for a lot of people, because Bella touched a lot of hearts there,” Hiltz said.
“People all knew her, trusted her and loved her. They really feel it.
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