Funeral chain creates visual campaign to show dangers of fentanyl

Metro Vancouver funeral chain serves up to five families monthly who’s loved one died from overdose

UPDATE: B.C. Coroners Service chief coroner Lisa Lapointe releases statement on funeral chain’s program, saying the service “does not endorse, and will not be participating in, fear-based initiatives.” See more >


A B.C. funeral and cremation company has rolled out a “very visual” fentanyl prevention program that it hopes will cut the number of drug deaths related to opioids among children and young adults.

Funeral homes and crematoriams see the aftermath of overdose deaths – a statistic continuing to climb across the province.

Tyrel Burton, owner of Alternatives Funeral and Cremation Services, estimates the chain serves four to five families each month after a loved one has died from an overdose.

In a news release Thursday, Burton said the Metro Vancouver company felt it could no longer tolerate those numbers.

“All too often in recent months, we are being called on to assist a distraught family in planning a funeral service for a teen or young adult family member – the result of one terrible and tragic decision,” a blog post on the companies website reads.

Unlike other programs focusing on harm reduction, Burton said, the campaign is instead using “powerful, perhaps even controversial, visual aids” to talk about the dangers of fentanyl.

“Our focus is harm prevention,” he said.

READ MORE: 19 youth have died from overdoses, B.C.’s top doctor tells parents

READ MORE: Carfentanil detected in 37 deaths between June and September

One piece in the campaign is a poster of grieving family members surrounding a coffin. Underneath the photo, a banner reads: “Will fentanyl be the reason for your next family get-together?”

A casket and hearse are also part of the 45-minute presentation aimed at parents and their children aged 12 and up. The video will include speakers, police victim services and the parent of a child who died from a fentanyl overdose who reads a letter.

The company began raising funds for its educational fentanyl program last year, and was met with $5,000 in support.

The campaign is one of several being taken on by professionals at the forefront of the overdose crisis. Since fentanyl arrived in the province, more than 1,500 people have died.

Health authorities such as Fraser Health and Interior Health have taken on poster campaigns urging people “not to use alone,” and community groups, social workers and even businesses in the hospitality industry have led training on how to use overdose-reversing naloxone kits.

“We felt that we had to do something to reach teens and young adults before they become addicted,” Burton said in a news release. “This program is our response to what we see as a critical need.”

Program in response to watching grieving parents

Funeral director John Romeyn in nearby Abbotsford said he backs the program after hearing a comment from a grieving dad.

“I had a father say to me, ‘I was supposed to (be choosing) clothes for my daughter to wear for her graduation. Now I’m picking something to wear for her casket,’ ” he said.

Romeyn said all of those involved in the presentation try to impress on young people that no one is immune from the dangers of fentanyl or other opioids.

“We’ve dealt with pastors’ children and lawyers’ kids, and everyday people who are out there … either experimenting or the casual user who isn’t aware of what’s out there,” he added.

With files from The Canadian Press


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Liam’s Lowdown: it’s the little things that get you

At first, the name of my column was going to be Liam’s Lament

Despite brief shut downs Revelstoke’s Downie Timber weathering the storm

The forestry industry is taking a hit across the province

Glimpses of Revelstoke’s past for Aug. 21

Glimpses of Revelstoke’s past for Aug. 21

Two musical acts playing The Last Drop on Aug. 24

See John Michael Lind and She Hangs Brightly

Trudeau to meet with U.K. and Japanese prime ministers ahead of G7 summit

French President Emmanuel Macron, this year’s G7 host, has little expectations of a unified front from the leaders

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

PHOTOS: Brazil military begins operations to fight Amazon fires

Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries

Racist confrontation in Richmond parking lot caught on camera

Woman can be heard yelling racial slurs, swear words at woman in apparent parking dispute

Okanagan Nation bringing overdose awareness to Syilx Okanagan communities

The Purple Ribbon Campaign for International Overdose Awareness Day is Aug. 28

Groups ready campaign to help young voters identify ‘fake news’ in election

The media literacy campaign to focus on identifying misinformation and suspicious sources online

Big rally in northern B.C. draws attention to continuing lumber crisis

Mayor Joan Atkinson says about 400 workers have been directly affected by the closure of the Canfor mill

Orangeville Northmen take Minto Cup at Langley Events Centre

Swept best-of-five series 3-0 over Victoria Shamrocks

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

Most Read