British Columbia

B.C. Coroners Service admonishes fear-based anti-drug campaigns

In a written statement from the agency, following stories about a B.C. funeral home's blunt anti-overdose campaign, Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe says, 'the reasons for drug use are complex and multifaceted, and programs focused on scaring people from using drugs, are not effective in saving lives.'

Written opinion piece from Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe follows stories about funeral home's blunt message

'While we acknowledge the importance of public education and awareness, the B.C. Coroners Service does not endorse, and will not be participating in, fear-based initiatives,' says Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe. (B.C. Coroners Service)

B.C.'s chief coroner says the agency does not endorse fear-based campaigns to reduce overdose deaths in the province.

An opinion piece, written by Lisa Lapointe and sent to media on Saturday is a response to stories CBC News and the Canadian Press covered on Friday about a B.C. funeral home's anti-overdose campaign.

​Alternatives Funeral and Cremation Services has developed a 45-minute presentation that includes speakers from police victim services and the parent of a child who died from a fentanyl overdose.

The funeral home has not been successful in showing the presentation in schools because it's been told it's too upsetting. The funeral home's director disagrees with that, saying the presentation is not meant to scare but educate.

'Increase the stigma'

Lapointe says, "programs focused on scaring people from using drugs, are not effective in saving lives."

She writes that: "... they tend to increase the stigma surrounding drug use and actually discourage people from seeking help — an obsolete approach that has led to the loss of countless lives."

Lapointe says that recent research from the B.C. Centre on Substance Abuse, shows that mass media campaigns and public service announcements about substance use prevention showed no effectiveness on substance use prevention.

Read her entire opinion piece here.