marijuana-suicide-risk

The Common Element in These Suicides: Marijuana

The common element in all these suicides or self-inflicted deaths was marijuana.   Marijuana was the factor, not alcohol or other drugs…………in all cases.  (Read Part 1 and Part 2)

Marc Bullard, 23      Colorado

Brant Clark, 17        Colorado

Tron Dohse, 26        Colorado

Luke Goodman, 23      Colorado, traveling from Oklahoma

Daniel Juarez, 18     Colorado

Shane Robinson, 25      California

Rashaan Salaam, 41      Colorado

Levy Thamba, 19         Colorado, traveling from Wyoming

Hamza Warsame, 16       Washington

Andy Zorn, 31          Arizona

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These four young men died in marijuana-related suicides. Clockwise from left, Daniel Juarez, Colorado, (photo, CBS News), Shane Robinson, California, Hamza Warsame, Washington (photo, Seattle Times, from the family) and Andy Zorn, Arizona.

Four of these victims — Warsame, Thamba, Juarez, Clark — had experienced pot-induced psychosis during the period leading to their deaths.  Juarez was an outstanding soccer player who got very high with a friend the night he stabbed himself 20 times.   The suicide report showed he had 38.2 ng of marijuana in his blood, eight times the limit for Colorado drivers. Toxicologists tested him for methamphetamine and other substances, but the results turned out to be negative. Although the death occurred in 2012, CBS News obtained the police report in 2015 and made it public at that time.  Juarez´s sister claims he would not have killed himself had he not gotten stoned that night.

Suicidal thoughts can come on very quickly while under the influence in individuals who were not previously suicidal. The suddenness of suicidal ideation means that intervention may be impossible. 

Dohse’s death was determined to have been an accident. Unable to find his keys, Dohse climbed up the apartment building and fell.  The toxicology report 27.3 ng. of marijuana in his blood, but no other drugs or alcohol in his system.  As his sister told CBS, she believes marijuana impairment led her brother to make poor decisions the night of his death.  (Read Part 1 for more background on Warsame, Dohse, Juarez and Clark)

Levy Thamba, left, and Kristine Kirk, right. Both died shortly after marijuana edibles went on sale in Colorado.

The story of Levy Thamba is particularly tragic since he was on a student visa to this country.  He came from the Democratic Republic of Congo to study engineering in Wyoming.  While visiting Denver with friends, he tried a marijuana edible for the first time.  It was a pot-infused cookie, the effects of which don´t appear immediately. About two hours later, he became acutely psychotic, thinking pictures were jumping off the wall. The friends calmed him down before going to sleep, but his psychosis returned.   He ran from his room to the sixth floor balcony, jumping to his death.

Thamba’s death is often described along with the death of Kristine Kirk.  She called 911 because her husband, Richard Kirk, wanted her to shoot him, after he ate a marijuana candy.  By the time, help came, he shot Kristine, mother of their three children, instead.

Bullard, Salaam and Robinson appear to have been suffering from depression as a result of heavy and/or extended pot use.  Marc Bullard was “dabbing.”  Andy Zorn, a veteran who had been taking medical marijuana, knew he had to quit marijuana to survive.  But he couldn’t quit and so took his own life. (Many people begin smoking pot after being told “it’s not addictive.”)

Marijuana Withdrawal is a Risk, Too

Although Shane Robinson had experienced two periods of pot-induced psychosis, he was having marijuana withdrawal syndrome at the time of his death.   According to a program of Dr. Drew Pinsky back in 2003, there is “an extraordinarily high incident of suicide in the first six months of marijuana abstinence.”

Most striking about the youths we describe is that they did not begin pot use because of depression.  All of these deaths occurred in marijuana-friendly states where the social situation was an influence on their pot use.  Lori Robinson, Shane’s mother, warns that educating against drugs and modelling a healthy lifestyle without drug use doesn’t work today.  It is no match for current  cultural trends and government policy which normalizes pot use.

Most who die in marijuana-related suicides are male, but women and girls are still at risk.  One of our supporters attempted suicide in her 20s after years of daily pot use, failed relationships and domestic violence.  Her attempt was not successful.  Today she is 29 years sober and her survival is a blessing.   Not all people will be as lucky. Males are generally more successful in suicide attempts, because their methods are often more efficient.

Pot is the Common Element, not an Underlying Mental Health Issue

These youths banish the claim that mental health problems always come before the marijuana use.   (A strong misconception is that mental illness after using pot only affects those with previous mental health issues.)  The deaths described here include active psychotic reactions at the time of marijuana use, as well as depression from long-term use.

The lives of these young men need to be a warning to states trying to legalize marijuana.  Suicide rates in Colorado have reached all-time highs and each one of Colorado’s 21 health regions had a suicide rate higher than the national average, according to a February report by the Colorado Health Institute.

When the pot industry tells us that “no one ever died from marijuana,” they’re lying.   Maybe it is time for the CDC to start tracking marijuana-related deaths.

These 10 deaths are just a few of the many self-inflicted deaths related to marijuana use.  Lori Robinson has assembled more stories of marijuana-related deaths and psychosis on the website of Moms Strong.  Read these stories on momsstrong.org.

Girl Scouts Sue Marijuana Industry and Get Results

Girl Scouts USA wrote a cease and desist letter to an Oakland, California, marijuana dispensary.  They asked the company to stop using the name Girl Scout Cookies for this product.  The Girl Scouts  organization has exclusive rights to the name under trademark law.

photo via VSCO

As a result the Magnolia Oakland dispensary pulled this product of their shelves right away.  Kudos to the Girl Scouts for fighting back.

In Nevada, a Las Vegas company, Shango, has been selling under the name Gurl Scouts.  So far, the Girls Scouts haven’t taken any action  against that company, as of this time.   The parents. however, are very upset, reports a Nevada TV station.

Although the organization didn’t take legal action in Las Vegas, they released the following statement:

We were recently made aware of local dispensaries using the Girl Scouts trademarked name, or a variation of our trademarked name, to sell their products. In January, dispensaries in California were issued a cease and desist letter from Girl Scouts of the USA for trademark infringement and have removed the product in violation from their shelves. “Girl Scout Cookies” is a registered trademark dating back to 1936. Our famous cookies are known the world over for their delicious flavor and we do not want the public to be confused by unauthorized products in the marketplace.

Here is another article about the cease and desist in California:

https://www.thekindland.com/culture/girl-scouts-will-sue-your-ass-over-girl-scout-cookie-2561

 

date-rape

USC Athlete Rape Incident is a Warning Against Marijuana Edibles

Marijuana Cookie Used in Alleged Rape Crime

Osa Masina, a USC football player who was suspended, is going to be tried for an alleged rape.  The trial is set to begin June 25.

The 19-year-old met up with a former classmate last summer, on July 25.   The Salt Lake Tribune describes the incident:

There, a night of partying — Bacardi rum, Mike’s Hard Lemonade and half of a marijuana cookie — left her feeling so intoxicated she says could not get out of a car on her own that night when she went with Masina and a group of his friends to get fast food, and she said she cannot recall how she got back inside the house.

She said the next thing she remembered after passing out was waking up with Masina raping her.

“It hurt. It was very painful,” she said, and though she said she felt “scared and helpless,” she tried to move her legs to stop him.

“Did you consent in any way to the sexual contact you’ve been describing?” the prosecutor asked.

“No,” the woman said.

The woman testified she passed out and awoke several more times throughout the night, each time to a different horror: She awoke to Masina forcing her to engage in oral sex so rough she could not breathe; she awoke unable to move from a couch and unable to reach someone to come help her; she awoke, wearing only a bra and a blanket, on the lawn of a neighboring home where she saw Masina’s car still parked outside and “that fear came over me again because I knew he was still in the house.”

Guys, as well as gals, should consider that marijuana use may lead to unwanted sex

Calling Out the Role of Marijuana is not “Victim Shaming”

The description of the rape is horrible.  The evidence suggests that the football player and the woman were abusing substances before the sexual activity occurred.  The law should not excuse this behavior towards a woman who has passed out.

Nine days earlier, Masina, her high school friend, had invited the victim to Los Angeles for a long weekend.   At that time, Masina, the woman and another football player, Max Hill, partied hard.  The victim took marijuana, two Xanax pills along with alcohol   The woman alleges that both Masina and Don Hill raped her.   Masina and Hill were suspended from the team, but a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles has been dismissed.

Alcohol can produce some pretty outrageous behaviors, but when alcohol mixes with marijuana or other drugs, extremes happen.    This case, the Stanford swimmer’s case and many others exemplify why we need to educate against intoxication.  It is not “victim shaming” to explain that the 19-year-old would not have passed out if she had did not eat half a marijuana cookie.  The effects of marijuana cookies happen about two hours after ingestion.

In 2014, the Vote No on 2 campaign in Florida warned about marijuana cookies and date rape.  This recent rape case involving a college football player should scrutinize the role of the marijuana -laced cookie .

Half of a cookie from Colorado, Washington or California could have as much as 50 milligrams of marijuana.  Levy Thamba jumped off a building to his death after eating a marijuana-laced cookie.  A few weeks later, Richard Kirk shot his wife after eating a marijuana candy and going crazy.

The marijuana industry in Colorado prevented a ballot supported by 80 % of the state which would have capped the strength of edibles.  (Failure to warn of the psychotic effects from these edibles is a disservice to both the victim and the accused.  Both were 19, below the legal age to buy marijuana cookies in any state.)

There is no mention of how and when Masina or the woman obtained the cookies.   Who bought or provided the cookie?  Was interstate drug trafficking involved?  Calling out substance abuse as a factor doesn’t excuse rape, but it warns of the conditions in which rape is most likely to occur.

No on 2 Predicted Correctly

In 2014, the Florida Vote No on 2 Campaign forecast that marijuana would become the new date-rape drug.  Journalists, respectable blogs and the marijuana industry laughed at the idea.  No on 2’s prediction was correct.  Let’s hope the prosecutor explores the role of the pot-laced cookie during the trial.  It should serve as a warning against this type of impairment.

States should pass laws to clarify consent for sexual activity in order to guard against rape and unwanted sex.  Equally important, educators need to inform about the role of substance abuse in domestic violence and rape.  Pedophiles often give marijuana to their victims.

Even groups concerned with violence against women remain in the dark.   Colleges don’t do enough to warn against drugs to avoid unwanted sex.  In fact, the United States is quite backwards compared to other countries in failing to see the connection.  Those who blame alcohol only, and not other drugs, are complicit in the denial.

date-rape
The incident happened off campus during the summer, but the defendant was suspended from his team last fall.  A sophomore, he was slated to be a starting linebacker for USC’s varsity team.
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Marijuana Use is Linked to Increased Suicide Risk

(Please see Part 1: Marijuana Suicide, a Growing Risk for our Youth)

Marijuana-related suicide is a controversial topic because other websites include commenters who claim marijuana saved their lives. Pot interferes with the reward center of the brain, just like cocaine, alcohol and heroin. So when someone dependent on the drug doesn’t have it, their depression or anxiety becomes stronger than previously.   After prolonged use, the brain eventually doesn’t function as well.

For this reason, it’s much wiser to rely on yoga, counseling, walking, and other exercise for depression and anxiety.  (Others will say that anti-depressants are safer, although we won’t actually endorse them, and don’t think they’re always necessary.)

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Source: Christine Miller, PhD

Marijuana increases the risk for psychosis more than any other drug.   Marijuana is not the panacea the pot industry wants you to believe.

What Conditions Increase Suicide Risk?

Daily marijuana use below age 18 is connected to 7x the risk of attempted suicide before age 30.

In today’s world, students have huge problems and challenges even if they don’t abuse substances.  Marijuana is the most likely drug of abuse for teens.  Any substance abuse –marijuana, alcohol, opiates, other drugs or a combination – generally makes the depression more difficult to overcome.

The town of Pueblo, Colorado has had an alarming trend of suicides among its teens, at least five this year.    Although local officials link these deaths to bullying, Pueblo is infiltrated with marijuana and other drugs.   Dr. Steven Simerville, head of pediatrics at a Pueblo hospital, has spoken about the connection between marijuana and teen suicide.   In October, 2016, he said that all but one of teens who attempted suicide had THC in their toxicology reports.

A few years ago studies showed that 28% of all high school students are depressed.  There are plenty of reasons for teens to be depressed in this society: hormonal change, social pressure, relationships and academics.  The social media adds a layer of complication to the problem with cyber bullying.  When a teen becomes an adult, additional challenges emerge, and for some, entry into adulthood is jolting.

Family relationships and community connection are important.  With support systems, many youth go through the rough patches and come out stronger.  It’s a reason that government needs to protect our youth, educate against marijuana and stop legalization.  

From the Moms Strong website, provided by Dr. Christine Miller, PhD

Suicide is Increasing Above National Rate in Colorado

The opposite is occurring in Colorado.  Suicide rates in Colorado have reached all-time highs, according to a recent report by the Colorado Health Institute.   Each one of Colorado’s 21 health regions had a suicide rate higher than the national average.

Those old enough to go into dispensaries can see how the pot industry advertises marijuana to treat depression or anxiety.    Dispensaries prey on the vulnerable.  For veterans and those without a job, it’s hard to resist.

When the pot industry tells us that “no one ever died from marijuana,” they’re being dishonest.  There’s a popular strain of marijuana called Purple Suicide.  There’s also a line of vape pens called Suicide Girls, specifically marketed for using honey/hash oil.  Makers of the vape pens and marketers of Purple Suicide are onto something: marijuana use increases the suicide risk.

When they assert the numbers of those who die from alcohol each year, please ask who is tracking deaths from marijuana.   Maybe it is time for the CDC to start tracking marijuana-related deaths.   Please read Part 3, The Common Element.