The family of a Burnaby teen who died of a fentanyl overdose will share their story this month at a community drug forum hosted by a White Rock elementary school and police.
The Feb. 23 event at Peace Arch Elementary “really caught my eye as a possibility of making a difference,” father Mark Bodie told Peace Arch News Tuesday of why he accepted the invitation to speak.
“That’s the most powerful thing I can do, is just tell Jack’s story and let them know fentanyl is an indiscriminate killer.”
The deadly synthetic narcotic has been a particularly hot topic in 2016, as the number of illicit-drug overdose fatalities increased. By year’s end, 914 people – including at least two in White Rock – had died in B.C. of overdoses, with many linked to fentanyl.
Const. Chantal Sears – who on Tuesday confirmed the overdose death of a man in White Rock the day before – said the idea for the forum was planted last summer, when she learned about Bodie during a presentation by Odd Squad Productions.
“I just thought his story was so real,” Sears said. “It could basically be any kid in the Lower Mainland.
Bodie agreed, describing what happened to his son as a “fairly typical story that’s being repeated, unfortunately, hundreds of times and now thousands of times, over the years.”
Jack Bodie was productive, active and “loved deeply by his family,” his father said. In August 2015, at age 17, he died approximately six months after trying oxycontin with his friends. It launched a “very, very tragic downhill spiral” that quickly led to fentanyl.
“He overdosed five times. The fifth time was the last time.”
In the 18 months since, Bodie has heard “story after story after story of people exactly like my son.”
Raising awareness of dangers is critical to stemming the tide, he said.
“It needs to start at a very, very young age,” Bodie said. “They need to be thinking about it.
“By the time you’re in high school, a lot of attitudes… are already made. They need to hear that there’s a killer out there. People who take fentanyl are really on a death train.”
Bodie criticized the provincial and federal governments for “absolute zero response” to the problem – the heart of which, he says, is mental health.
“They’ve done nothing. Which is more than curious, it’s devastating,” he said. “There’s only so much the community can do without the help of the government.
“I don’t have $10 million to start a mental-health clinic. But someone does, and that’s what really needs to happen.”
The forum, supported by PAE’s parent advisory council, begins at 7 p.m., 15877 Roper Ave. It is open to everyone, and local statistics will be shared.