The B.C. Coroner’s office on Monday released additional comments following an inquest into the overdose death of 16-year-old Oak Bay resident Elliot Eurchuk.
Eurchuk was found dead in his home on April 20, 2018. His death was ruled accidental due to a fentanyl overdose with cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine also in his body.
The inquest was held last June, at the request of his parents, Brock Eurchuk and Rachel Staples, to determine what could be done in future to prevent similar deaths.
It heard from individuals and agencies in Eurchuk’s life that he had used opioids and other narcotics before he was prescribed opioids for four major surgeries in 2017 due to sports injuries.
The jury made seven recommendations for the ministries of health and education and the CEO of the Island Health Authority, mainly to develop a plan to transition youth from health-care facilities back to community-based services, as well as a process for early detection of mental health and substance use disorders within schools.
Monday’s release included further comments from presiding coroner Michael Egilson, reinforcing each of the recommendations.
“The jury heard evidence from multiple mental health professionals that early detection of mental health and substance use disorders was the best way to prevent prolonged drug use and dependence in youth,” he wrote.
He also noted that the jury heard that consistent transition planning from acute care facilities to community-based services was required to properly support young people, and that Vancouver Island does not have any long-term residential treatment facilities for youth.
The inquest heard that Eurchuk had been in and out of hospital care due to narcotic use. He overdosed in hospital in February 2018 but was brought back to life by the overdose-reversal drug Naloxone. Soon after, in March 2018, he was brought to the emergency department at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver in a decreased state of consciousness. He was there only for a short time and no drug testing was undertaken.
The inquest reported that Eurchuk “usually obtained his drug supply through a website where drugs are rated by visitors.”
Eurchuk’s parents have said that on Feb. 14, 2018 – four days after their son’s overdose in Victoria General Hospital – he was discharged with no plan or supports in place to address the addiction.
The B.C. Coroners Service is not a fault-finding agency and the jury does not make any finding of legal responsibility.