Overdose death of son leads mother to say: 'There isn't anyone who doesn't matter'

Cindy Stuyt’s son, Bailey Thomas Townsend, died at the age of 28 on Dec. 17 on a bench in Vancouver. Now, she wants people in that city to feel more compassion for the addicted and homeless.

Cindy Stuyt’s son, Bailey Thomas Townsend, died at the age of 28 on Dec. 17 on a bench in Vancouver

Scenes of poverty and addiction are all too common in Vancouver. A mother who lost her son to addiction wants people to know that no matter their circumstances, the lives of the less fortunate are still important. (Shutterstock)

An Ontario mother whose son died of an overdose on the streets of Vancouver has a message for the people of that city: her son mattered.

Cindy Stuyt's son, Bailey Thomas Townsend, died at the age of 28 on Dec. 17 on a sidewalk bench.

Bailey Thomas Townsend, in a 2013 photo with his daughter. Townsend died of an overdose in Vancouver on Dec. 17, 2015. (Cindy Stuyt)

"He was on video surveillance at the time he sat down, about two, three in the morning, and it kind of looked like he was just dozing off," Stuyt told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn. "I guess around 5:30 is when the first person called for help."

Stuyt wrote to Vancouver Sun writer Shelley Fralic about the death of her son, and after Fralic wrote a column about Townsend's death, the woman who tried to save him came forward.

Fralic connected the two via email.

"It took me all day to get the courage to email her back, but I have," she said. "I just thanked them for being so understanding and I'm sure it was hard on them as well."

"She says she walks by that bench every day and says hello to Bailey."

'Just let them know they're not alone'

Stuyt also wanted Fralic to get the message out that "there isn't anyone who doesn't matter."

She wants people in Vancouver and elsewhere to have more compassion for homeless and addicted people on the street.

"Don't walk by people and just assume," she said. "Think about them. Think about their families."

Townsend's family, including Stuyt, is now left grieving his absence.

Stuyt says the person grieving the hardest is his young daughter.

"She knows that her daddy is gone. And she's struggling. She had a very hard time," Stuyt said.

Stuyt knows that in Vancouver, many people pass by addicted and homeless people on a regular basis. But she hopes people don't become jaded to their suffering.

"Offer them a hand. A hug. A kind word. Just let them know they're not alone."

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Cindy Stuyt on the life and death of her son, Bailey