Los Angeles high school student dies in apparent overdose from fentanyl-laced pills | los Angeles

A teenage girl at a Hollywood high school died on Tuesday and another was hospitalized, after taking what police believe were counterfeit pills filled with fentanyl.

The incident, which is being investigated as a homicide by Los Angeles police, comes as federal officials announced new national counts of overdose deaths, showing nearly 200 people in the US are dying each day due to overdoses of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.

Since 2019 the US has seen a huge surge in teen overdose deaths, as a flood of counterfeit pills, which look like normal oxycodone, Percocet or Xanax tablets but actually contain fentanyl, have hit the black market.

Police said officers were called to Bernstein high school in Hollywood on Tuesday evening after a parent went to the school to find a student who had not come home as expected.

The parent found the girl experiencing overdose symptoms, authorities said. That teen alerted the parent that her friend was also having trouble. When the parent and a school employee entered the women’s bathroom they found the second teen unresponsive, called 911 and tried to revive her, according to police. Emergency responders pronounced the student dead at the scene. The other teen was hospitalized and is in a stable condition.

Investigators said the victims apparently purchased what they believed were Percocet pills in a nearby park. Police noted that emergency crews responded to several other overdose calls in the same area, believed to be other high school students.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid so potent that one counterfeit pill can prove fatal. Vast quantities of these fake pills are being smuggled into the US and are circulating in the illicit drug market, meaning that teens often ingest the deadly drug unknowingly.

The 108,174 drug overdoses reported by the CDC on Wednesday in new statistics for the 12 months ending in April 2022 were a slight decrease from a month earlier. Yet drug deaths are still near the highest levels ever recorded, with synthetic opioids including fentanyl being by far the nation’s most deadly drugs.

Overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids more than doubled since 2019 and now make up about 67 percent of overdose deaths.

“The data released by the CDC today continue to show signs of hope as overdose deaths have decreased from last month’s data,” said Dr Rahul Gupta, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in a statement. But “we must do more to lower the number of overdoses”.

Last month, port officials in Arizona reported seizing 250,000 fentanyl pills, some of which were produced in bright rainbow colors to look just like candy. Florida’s attorney general warned the colorful pills may be designed to entice children.

Hundreds of parents of children who have died from fentanyl overdoses have organized to raise student awareness of the dangers and call on the government to take more action to stop deaths.

“We are losing our kids and all they are doing is experimenting,” northern California mother Laura Didier, whose 17-year-old died from a fake fentanyl pill in 2020, told the Guardian. “Fentanyl doesn’t even give them a chance.”

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