EDITORIAL: Heartfelt warning

Fewer messages hit home stronger than those rooted in a death, particularly that of a young person

Fewer messages hit home stronger than those rooted in a death, particularly that of a young person.

And the message delivered by the South Surrey family of 20-year-old Danika Koltai in recent days is no exception.

Danika – who played soccer on the Semiahmoo Peninsula as a teen, and was a popular employee at the Morgan Crossing Starbucks at the time of her death – died of a drug overdose Sept. 1 in Delta.

In a heart-wrenching Facebook post, her father Tom describes her passing as the result of “an accidental but deadly concoction of prescription and non-prescription” drugs.

Specifics of the circumstances surrounding Danika’s death have not been made public.

But her father emphasizes a point that perhaps not everyone considers when learning of such tragedies: that what happened to Danika could happen to anyone who uses drugs, regardless of stature, and regardless of whether they use on a regular basis, recreationally or “just this once.”

Overdoses are not a new occurrence by any stretch, but there is a stigma that accompanies them, one that pigeonholes the person who took the drugs as an addict, from a damaged family or who led a privileged life.

Danika, according to her father, was none of those. His daughter, just like her uncle who died under similar circumstances in 1972, was a middle-class kid who grew up in a middle-class neighbourhood with a middle-class family.

But like so many others before her who have overdosed – and there have been hundreds in B.C. this year already, with many linked to the deadly opioad fentanyl – a choice was made the night she died, one that brought consequences Danika likely never considered could ever happen to her.

Her older brother, who also reached out on Facebook, hopes that sharing what happened to Danika will give others who may be considering trying drugs pause.

This is a wakeup call,” he writes.

As Danika’s father states, “your own safety is a direct function of your chosen behaviours.”

How much stronger does the message need to be?

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