By Rich Suwanski ©Messenger-Inquirer
The Owensboro Regional Suicide Prevention Coalition’s 2014 Spring Conference will be a two-day event — starting on April 24 for the public and concluding April 25 for professionals — at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital Auditorium.
Dr. Timothy J. Wiegand, the director of toxicology at the University of Rochester (N.Y.) Medical Center, will be the presenter.
The April 24 event is called “Not For Human Consumption” and is free and open to the public, starting at 6 p.m.
The April 25 event is intended for health care professionals and is called “Intoxicants, Self-Poisoning and Suicide.” It costs $40 and will run from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
“Dr. Wiegand will talk about what are generally called synthetic or designer recreational drugs,” said Mike Flaherty, ORSPC chairman. “There are about 100 that have been identified, and his lecture will trace their history and how easily they may be obtained. There’s been a designer drug explosion the last few years, and they’ve caused a lot of problems, especially for young people and communities.”
Flaherty said parents attending the Thursday presentation will learn more about what to look for if their children bring the substances home or have it in their possession and alert them to their prevalence on the Internet.
“Manufacturers manipulate the contents of the drugs so they’re not illegal, but they’re dangerous because we don’t know what types of chemical compounds are in them and how they affect kids,” Flaherty said. “They’re not being sold as mind-altering substances but under the guise of bath salts or incense.
“They target young people, and there’s been a tremendous increase in overdoses and deaths due to designer drugs.”
There is no pre-registration for the April 24 event.
To attend the April 25 event, health care professionals may pre-register at www.surveymonkey.com/s/intoxicantsself-poisoningsuicide.
“The primary purpose for this event is to help therapists and clinicians be better in the prevention of suicide,” Flaherty said. “Dr. Weigand is nationally known for his work as a medical toxicologist and treating persons who have a chemical dependency.
“There is an extremely high correlation between completed suicide and alcohol. Substance abuse is a very high risk factor, too, and prescription drugs are also one of the methods used to complete suicide.”