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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kootenay program encourages gardeners to share what they grow during pandemic

The West Kootenay Permaculture Co-op is sending out free seeds, but with a catch

Nelson and COVID-19: everything you need to know

Check this page for every local story related to the outbreak

West Kootenay residents stranded in Peru seek a way home

Three West Kootenay residents are in remote places, unable to get to Lima’s international airport

PHOTOS: Neighbourhood stroll during a pandemic

Jackie Zelt went looking for people in a time of isolation

West Kootenay couple escapes Spain – safe, sound, and in self-isolation

BC couple Garrett Kucher and Tory Apostoliuk make it home after almost a week of lockdown in Spain

B.C. records first at-home death from COVID-19, but 70+ hospital patients have recovered

Total of 970 novel coronavirus cases in B.C., with the majority in the Lower Mainland area

Canadian COVID-19 round-up: Air Canada cuts 15,000 jobs, 90% of flights

Comprehensive Canadian news update as of 2:30 p.m., Monday, March 30.

Apartments evacuated during police stand-off

The incident occurred at Grand Forks apartment building on March 28

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Pay parking suspended at B.C. hospitals due to COVID-19

Temporary free parking reduces need for keypads, contact

Canadian ferry operators call for inclusion in COVID-19 travel restrictions

Domestic travel restrictions should include ferries, operators say

Cruise ships, one with COVID-19 on board, carry Canadians covertly through Panama Canal

Zaandam, Rotterdam pass through canal under cover of darkness in face of local protests

’The energy sector is destroyed beyond repair’: expert on COVID-19’s impact on economy

‘That’s never been heard of before; no one sells oil for $4 a barrel.’ – Dan McTeague

LifeLabs reducing public hours as it assists with COVID-19 testing

Coronavirus tests not done at B.C. patient centres, referrals only

Most Read