Tag Archives: Mental illness

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.

Adult Use of Marijuana Act is Wrong for California

Proposition 64 Allows Pot Edibles and Advertising

California’s Proposition 64 is called the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, or AUMA. Please tell your friends in California to vote NO ON 64 for good reasons.

1)It allows pot shops sell marijuana candy and soda, near where children live. According to the Latino Report the former mayor of Downey said, “These things look just like the candy that children love, and I’m not sure why the pot industry feels the need to market such kid-friendly stuff, unless it is taking a page from the tobacco industry’s handbook.”

Pot drinks showed up the backpacks of 5th graders at a Seattle school
Pot drinks showed up the backpacks of 5th graders at a Seattle school after legalization.

The marijuana lobbyists tell voters that “drug dealers don’t card but dispensaries do.”  That statement implies that children won’t take it from their parents, which is either very naive or deliberately deceptive. All evidence is contrary.

 

2) It fails to properly protect from stoned drivers: Proposition 64’s proponents refused to include a DUI standard for marijuana. This has become a real problem in states that have legalized pot like Washington, where the percentage of traffic deaths involving stoned drivers doubled in just one year post-legalization.

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In Longmont, CO, a 20-year old driver under the influence of pot killed an 8-year-old girl riding her bike on May 20. She was coming back from school, accompanied by stepdad.

3) Stoned drivers and underage use packs a double whammy:  An under-aged marijuana user in Colorado recently killed an 8-year-old girl riding her bike.  In Washington, a 17-year-old driver killed three of his classmates while driving after he got stoned.  In the past four months, 17-year-old drivers killed bicyclists while driving stoned in three separate  fatal crashes.  Proposition 64 cannot make right the wrongs of marijuana legalization.

Marijuana Edibles available in Colorado often look like familiar candies.i
Marijuana Edibles  often look like familiar candies. Proposition 64 allows the industry to set safety standards and do the testing.

4) It puts the pot industry in charge of safety standards: Proposition 64  allows the pot lobby to set the  product safety and testing standard which  will be based on voluntary codes. That’s like putting Philip Morris in charge of tobacco regulation.

5) Increased homelessness/mental illness:  It will bring more people to the state for marijuana who may suffer from mental illness as a consequence of their drug use and end up homeless.*  California’s drug users already face the problem of homelessness.  At first glance, it seems that the West Coast has more homelessness because its warm weather attracts people. It may be that marijuana use —  most popular in the West — has caused the homelessness.

6) Proposition 64 doesn’t prohibit advertising.

7) It specifically allows convicted drug-dealing felons to get into the marijuana businesses.  (California’s current medical marijuana law does not allow these same felons to get into the business.)

The marijuana industry tells us that “Prohibition has failed.”  Legalization is a much bigger failure.  Let’s not be duped again.  Please donate to either No on 64,  to Citizens Against the Legalization of Marijuana (CALM).   If you want to help all states fight legalization, please support SAM Action, and its educational wing, Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

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We have failed miserably at educating why not to use drugs. It’s time for a big change in strategies, back to education in the schools.

In California, anyone who is 18 can get a medical marijuana card for the most dubious of reasons.  Some may argue that the by legalizing marijuana for adults only, the state will control its out-of-control drug dealing in the form medical pot dispensaries.  A state as big and diverse as California failed miserably with medical marijuana. What makes you think they can do any better.  Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom says  California doesn’t want to make the same mistakes as Colorado, Oregon and Washington.  Then don’t legalize pot at all.

I Didn’t Know His Recovery Was Possible

Recovery was possible for my son, but we are lucky.  He is now 23 and if you asked me three years ago, I wasn’t sure he could get to where he is today.

He spent one year at a CSU school.  He came home after becoming engrossed in smoking a LOT of medical marijuana which was very easy to get on campus. He spent 6 months de-toxifying which also included many periods of psychosis including an evening at psychiatric hospital after a bad episode. This included hearing voices and laughing at seemingly nothing.  When asked what he was laughing about he would say something stupid and not satisfying. He also did not sleep well and spent hours and hours alone in his room. I took him to see a psychologist and two psychiatrists all of whom thought he may be schizophrenic.

After six months of this I finally convinced him to undergo testing with a neuro-psychologist who indicated that he was neither depressed nor psychotic. He did indicate though that there was some significant decrease in his executive functioning capabilities. His advice to me was that there was no medical solution (also, many kids this age won’t take medication anyway on a regular basis). He would have to spend the next few years hoping to regain normal brain functioning. Sure enough, and slowly over the last two years, all of his psychoses dissipated. The laughing at nothing lasted the longest (over a year). He is now doing well. He is not back at school, and frankly I don’t want him back in that atmosphere.  He is in a good job full-time and successfully living on his own and reconnecting with close friends.

My advice to all of you who have children going through this is to first of all do whatever you can to get them off the marijuana and all other drugs. I do not believe the symptoms will ease or go away until your child is clean and able to get it out of the system. The longer they smoke the worse the effects and the longer it will take he or she to recover. Getting evaluated is a great idea but make sure the person evaluating does a lot of testing.  If there is either depression or psychosis, chances are that it is related to the marijuana.

Our story has many more episodes, but I won’t bore you.  Now that it’s edibles that are common, I think it’s worse and I hear the kids are doing it even younger than high school age.

Please don’t write it off, give up, kick your child out of the house.  And please don’t think it’s a life sentence for a mental illness.

Marijuana Policy Must Protect Youth

By Roger Morgan, Founder/Chairman Take Back America Campaign America has gone from leading 92 countries in the fight against narcotics to a rogue nation with a federal government that has largely abandoned its responsibility to enforce drug laws. Marijuana, the enemy within, is rightly classified a Schedule I drug because it has no accepted medical use and has the potential for harm. Isolated components of the plant, like CBD, do appear to have medicinal value, but the marijuana being sold today as medicine has been bio engineered to be high in THC, the psychoactive ingredient, and void of CBD, because 98% of the “patients” just want to get high.

In 1979 by Keith Stroup, founder of NORML (National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws), announced at Emory University that the term “medical marijuana” would be used as a red herring to give pot a good name as a first step toward full legalization. It has been a long, patient plan, but obviously working thanks to the help of a few billionaires, with George Soros at the helm. Owing to a propaganda campaign financed by Soros, and now deceased Peter Lewis (former Chairman of Progressive Insurance) and John Sperling (founder of Phoenix University), Californians approved Prop 215 in 1996 to provide “medical marijuana” out of compassion for the chronically ill. In reality it had nothing to do with compassion, but was simply the first step in the long journey to legalize pot, with no concern for the social consequences for mankind.

Public Health and Safety is the first and most important priority of governments at all levels. Unfortunately, when the federal government fails to enforce the law, the burden falls to the States. When the States fail, the burden falls on local communities, which is exactly what has happened in California. In spite of the fact that the State collects between $58 and $105 million a year taxing marijuana, the money goes into the general fund leaving local government with burden of mental illness, suicides, declining academic achievement, more welfare, traffic deaths and crime. As an example, 54% of arrestees in the Sacramento area test positive for marijuana, 80% for all drugs. But crime isn’t the only problem.children

Marijuana is s fat soluble toxin that stays in the body and brain longer than any other drug. Unlike water soluble alcohol where one ounce is excreted from the body in 12 hours, half the THC from pot remains in the body and brain for a month, compounding with each additional joint. It weakens the immune system, increases the chance of cardiac arrest, leads to respiratory problems and cancer, and causes more DNA damage than even heroin based on studies done over 30 years ago, when the THC content was only 1/2 to 2%. Today the THC content averages 15%, goes as high as 37% in smoked form, and up to 90% as wax (BHO). It doesn’t kill by overdose, but almost all of the 114 Americans who die every day from drug overdose started their drug journey with pot.

Marijuana’s biggest impact is on the brain, which isn’t fully developed until age 25. Until it is, particularly during adolescence, marijuana can cause irreversible brain damage and subsequent loss of IQ by as much as 8 points. Pot is a causal factor in suicidal depression; psychosis including schizophrenia and paranoia; psychotic episodes leading to violent acts; impaired cognition, learning and memory; double the risk of traffic accidents and death; addiction; and causes death or physical deformities to a fetus. Unfortunately, the majority of consumers are 25 and under, peaking at age 19 or 20.PiedPiper(8)

California is targeted for outright legalization in 2016, financed again by Soros and out-of-state billionaires. America is already on a trajectory for 1/4th to 1/3rd of its young people and their offspring to incur permanent brain damage. Since the burden of public health and safety now rests with local government and private citizens, we must lock arms and do all possible to protect our youth, or neither they nor we have a future as a nation
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR ….
ROGER MORGAN Chairman/Founder, Take Back America Campaign, 20 year anti-drug activist dealing with drug prevention at the local, state and national level. (www.tbac.us). Formerly Chairman and Executive Director of the Coalition for A Drug-Free California. Owner/CEO of Steelheart International LLC, engaged in international business development and has been an entrepreneur and businessman in California for 35 years. Formerly, he was Vice President of Volvo of America and General Manager of Volvo Penta of America; and engaged in sales, marketing and dealer administration with Caterpillar Tractor Company and Caterpillar Overseas. He is a graduate of Washburn High School in Minneapolis (1956), Colorado College (1963) and The Thunderbird Graduate School of Global Management (1964). He was Founding Chairman of the Coronado SAFE Foundation in 1997, a non-profit dealing with drug prevention; prior Board Member of the San Diego Prevention Coalition; member of the National Coalition for Student Drug Testing; and Special Advisor to the Golden Rule Society in Coronado. His passion for drug prevention stems from two step-children who became drug addicted at age 12 and 14 roughly 32 years ago, and two nephews who died from drug related causes. Morgan has authored two books, published on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble, relating to marijuana and drug prevention. He is a frequent speaker and has written hundreds of articles on drugs and drug prevention.