B.C.'s chief coroner denounces 'fear-based' fentanyl campaign by funeral home

FILE PHOTO - Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe speaks about the latest statistics on illicit drug overdose deaths and fentanyl-detected overdose deaths during a press conference at the press gallery at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., Wednesday, January 18, 2017.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

VANCOUVER - British Columbia's chief coroner says the agency doesn't endorse what it calls "fear-based initiatives" after a funeral home launched a campaign to combat the opioid overdose crisis.

Lisa Lapointe issued an op-ed saying that although public education and awareness amidst the overdose crisis is important, scaring people from using drugs is not an effective measure in saving lives.

Alternatives Funeral and Cremation Services in Langley, B.C., created a fentanyl prevention program in response to the high number of families coming to the chain every month after losing a loved one to an overdose.

READ MORE: Funeral chain creates program to underscore the dangers of fentanyl

The chain's owner, Tyrel Burton, had said in a news release that the company felt compelled to reach teens and young adults before they become addicted.

The campaign uses visual aids the company described as "powerful, perhaps even controversial" that includes a poster of a grieving family surrounding a coffin under the banner reading "Will fentanyl be the reason for your next family get-together?"

Lapointe says fear-based campaigns tend to increase the stigma surrounding drug use, which can discourage people from seeking help, and instead, advertisements focused on skills and strategies to cope with a threat are found to be more effective.

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