A young man, just 17 years old, jumped to his death from the balcony of his family’s home in New South Wales, Australia. You might suspect he was depressed and trying to end his own life until you’re told that he was on drugs when this happened. A tragic accident that’s happened all too many times before, but what makes this story different is the fact that Henry Kwan, the boy who fell to his death in early June, wasn’t taking illegal drugs at all. He was, by all accounts, taking drugs that any kid can walk into a store and buy right now.
K2 or Spice are common street names for synthetic cannabis, a drug with effects that are much more severe and dangerous than traditional cannabis plants. Police are constantly in a struggle-filled game of cat and mouse. As soon as they’re able to get one blend of synthetic cannabis and other designer drugs off the shelves, there’s a new blend ready to go that has yet to be classified as illegal.
In the case of Henry Kwan, it wasn’t a matter of walking into a store to purchase spice, because according to police, he purchased the drug from another teenager. With synthetic versions of all the most popular street drugs available on store shelves, dealers can simply walk into a shop and drastically increase their profits by passing off these synthetic drugs as the real thing.
Tragically, Henry Kwan’s family was right there when it happened to witness the fall that ended his life. According to his father, Henry admitted to his parents that he had ingested drugs earlier in the night of his death. He was behaving very oddly, insisting that he’s able to fly. His mother and sister were unable to restrain him when he jumped from the balcony and suffered massive head trauma that ended his young life. Here’s the direct quote from the father of Henry Kwan.
“He thought he could fly. Whatever it did to him, he just kept saying he could fly. He was behaving very irrationally and strangely and my wife tried to stop him … she grabbed hold of him on the balcony but he was too strong.”
Both parents said this came as a complete surprise. They have never known their child to touch drugs, he was very dedicated to his studies and preparing for a career in law or medicine, according to his parents. There’s speculation that when he took what turned out to be a synthetic form of LSD, he wasn’t looking for a high or to “trip out”, but rather that he thought he was taking something that would help him study. Since the drug was ingested in the late afternoon, before Henry got home from school, it’s unlikely that somebody would intentionally take a drug like LSD before having to go home and interact with their family.
In response to this horrific event, the New South Wales government has put a 90 day ban on the sale of a number of synthetic drugs. Law dictates that a 90-day ban is the most they can do, unless the Federal Government comes in and assists them to permanently ban these dangerous “copycat” drugs. Still, this terrible event will raise awareness and hopefully mark one step closer to getting these drugs out of store shelves and out of a child’s hands.