Sudden Silence: Hidden Voices
Welcome visitors to your site with a short, engaging
introduction. Double click to edit and add your own text.
Sudden Silence: Hidden Voices is an adaptation of a photo voice project funded through a Vancouver Community Action Grant. The purpose of this project is to highlight the tragedy of the overdose crisis and introduce some of those who have been lost. Their loss is most keenly felt through their loved ones. Their grief cannot be described in words and is their constant companion. This project also focusses on the impact of the stigma for using drugs and of how safe supply might have made a difference.
Photo by Gabrielle Beer
Adventurer, Hard Worker, Adrenalin Junkie
Aaron was adventurous, courageous, compassionate, a hard worker, amazing son, a great daddy to his little girl and an adrenalin junkie! He worked alternately as a welder and then when it was fire season, he would jump out of helicopters to fight those huge fires that unfortunately are so common in B.C. He and his mom were avid target shooters and motorcycle riders, they rode and went to the shooting range together often. Shannon and Aaron travelled to Mexico to scuba dive whenever they could fit it in to their busy lives.
As a little kid Aaron was fun and loving even though he suffered from a chronic illness, Crohn’s Disease. When his body would allow, he enjoyed skiing, snow boarding, baseball & hockey. Crohn’s is an inflammation of the digestive and intestinal track and causes abdominal pain, fatigue, joint pain and weight loss. There is no cure for Crohn’s. During Crohn’s flare-ups, Aaron would at times become so sick that he ended up at BC Children’ Hospital. The pain could be so severe that at 12, it was recommended that he try medical marijuana. As Aaron described it, when he ate food, it was like “eating razor blades.” Aaron also had some trauma from living with a partner of his mom’s who was constantly emotionally abusive. It was some years before they both managed to distance themselves from this abuse.
Stigma had a huge impact on Aaron. He was very nervous that he would lose one or both of his jobs if anyone found out that he used drugs. He tried to hide both his Crohn’s Disease and use of drugs from everyone he worked and socialized with.
Aaron would detox at home (detoxing was often a requirement of treatment programs.) This in itself can be dangerous if treatment is not immediately available. If an individual uses drugs after they have not used them for some time, they can overdose if they take the same amount of drugs that they were used to taking.
Aaron was looking for treatment but as there were no available spots in treatment facilities, Aaron went into a pre treatment facility. Aaron was shocked by what he found at the pre-treatment centre. There was obvious drug use at the centre. Aaron became so upset and agitated by this that when he did get into the actual treatment facility, the physician thought at first that many of Aaron’s issues were as a result of a mental illness. However, eventually they could see that this was not the case and that Aaron needed help as he had become addicted. Aaron did very well in the treatment centre. Things seemed to be looking up.
One day, another person in treatment offered to take Aaron out of the centre on a day pass. In the evening, that person returned but Aaron did not. When his mom called to speak to Aaron she was told that he couldn’t come to the phone. His mom, Shannon, talked to Aaron almost daily so after four days of no contact, she went to the centre to find him and was told that he had not been there for 4 days. The centre personal said they had not been able to tell his mom for PIPEDA(Personal Information Protection and Electronic Document Act) confidentiality reasons. Shannon contacted the police. Since Aaron was taking some strong medication for Crohn’s but had not taken them for four days, the police deemed Aaron “high risk” and tried to find him. Over the next 30 days, Shannon, her friends and family also hit the streets, put up posters and searched all through the city. Sadly, after a month of searching, the police came to tell Shannon that Aaron had been found, deceased, sitting up against a tree, in a wooded area. It appeared that he had overdosed on toxic drugs the same day that he left the centre. No one knows how much fentanyl was in the drugs that he took. The drugs that he took for his Crohn’s disease likely interacted with the drugs Aaron purchased and this caused the overdose.
Shannon believes that Aaron may have been drawn to opioids due to the constant pain from his illness. If there had been a safe supply of opiates, and he was under medical care, he likely would be alive today.
The world has lost a wonderful soul. Sadly Aaron had a young daughter who has lost her dad.