Social media experts urge caution for online posts after Windsor teen’s apparent overdose death
The latest death of an apparent overdose has shocked the Windsor-Essex community.
Officials with the Windsor Overdose Prevention Society say they learned of the death of a 17-year-old on Monday.
“This is an emergency,” says Windsor Overdose Prevention Society member Brandon Bailey. “When our kids dying I think this needs to be this wake-up call that enough is enough."
The teenager, who celebrated his 17th birthday in April, has been identified as Josh Chouinard.
According to Bailey, his "friends" recorded his apparent overdose and posted it to Snapchat.
Bailey remembers Chouinard. He reached out to the teenager just days before his untimely death.
“He was using he was dealing with a lot of trauma,” says Bailey. “He didn't know how to be himself. He was trying to be something that he wasn't."
CTV News has confirmed Josh is the same teenager who was injured last December after he was allegedly hit by a vehicle driven by his mother.
"I hate to sound cliché but he fell through the cracks," admits Bailey.
Bailey knows of those troubles first hand. He is a recovered drug addict himself and was shocked to see Josh's death captured on Snapchat.
“Initially when the post was made online it was something that there was a very bad light on it and people were saying very dehumanizing things," says Bailey.
Chouinard died early Monday morning at a home in Windsor.
It's believed he smoked deadly carfentanil.
Nichole Howson, a social media expert in Windsor, says there's a dark side that's often only an afterthought.
"I can't imagine finding out about a family member or friend through social media," says Howson. "I think people like to broadcast their entire lives on social media. It gets really easy to fall into that trap of putting everything on social media."
Howson, who owns Aim Media, says the era of instant gratification comes with consequences if you don't think twice before hitting post.
“General rule when you're posting, you want to make sure that whatever you're doing it's helping the situation, it's not escalating it," says Howson.
Katie Stokes at Blab Media agrees, saying people need to train themselves to keep every little piece of reality off social media.
“We're so used to having these tools at our fingertips at all hours of day," says Stokes. "We're so used to living in the moment and in live time that we don't think about the consequences of our actions and this is a great example of that."
Bailey is using Chouinard's death to highlight the need for safe injection sites in Windsor. He has already opened an unsanctioned secret location and has helped two people.
“If that incriminates me it incriminates me I don't really care,” says Bailey. “The fact is two people didn't have to. If they had overdosed. They didn't have to die."
Bailey believes it's time for a change and that includes more than posting online.
“People are dying and maybe Josh wouldn't have used a site. Can't say he wouldn't, can't say he would, but if we don't have one, how can we say that he wouldn't?" says Bailey.
CTV News did reach out to the Chouinard family. Bailey has spoken with Josh's mother who is now joining the call for safe injection sites in Windsor.
She also posted on Facebook about how Naloxone saves lives.
Windsor police have been reluctant to support both issues, but they are expected to be addressed at the next police board meeting.