Allayah Yoli Thomas had recently turned 12 years old when she died of a suspected drug overdose April 15. (Courtesy of Adriana Londono)

Allayah Yoli Thomas had recently turned 12 years old when she died of a suspected drug overdose April 15. (Courtesy of Adriana Londono)

Suspected overdose death of Vancouver Island 12 year old speaks to lack of supports

Allayah Yoli Thomas was found dead by her friend the morning of April 15

Adriana Londono says the death of her 12-year-old daughter is a reflection of the lack of supports both of them have faced.

A Grade 6 student at Gordon Head Middle School, Allayah “Ally” Yoli Thomas was struggling.

“They’re not like me,” Ally would tell Londono. She preferred to hangout with Langford kids who were a bit older – kids who would do drugs with her.

In November 2019 Londono and her three kids moved to Greater Victoria from Alberta. Ally started with marijuana and cigarettes, but soon was using hard drugs too.

On April 14, two months after Ally’s 12th birthday, she was hanging out with Langford friends.

“They were going to have a sleepover at her friend’s house in Langford, but then they went with Ally’s boyfriend downtown and bought some downers – heroin or fentanyl or whatever – and they did some and went home,” Londono said.

READ ALSO: B.C. and Victoria’s overdose deaths still rising five years after public health emergency declared

When they got to the friend’s house, Ally was swaying and her friend’s dad asked her if she was okay. But Ally told him she had just had a couple of drinks and needed to go to bed.

The next morning, her friend woke to find Ally purple in the face and dead beside her. The B.C. Coroner’s Service said it’s investigating the death, but hasn’t confirmed the cause.

Londono said she knew her daughter was struggling with addiction and mental health, and she tried to get her help but didn’t know what to do.

For the most part, Ally was loving, sweet and bubbly, but there were downs too.

“I noticed she had cuts on her arms, so she was struggling,” Londono said. “Sometimes she’d get depressed and I’d find suicidal notes in her room.”

On multiple occasions, Ally was admitted to the Victoria General Hospital and one time she stayed in the psychiatric unit for a week.

READ ALSO: ‘Belittled and dismissed:’ Former patients of Victoria Psychiatric Emergency Services call for change

“It wasn’t long enough and it wasn’t targeted to her addiction,” Londono said. “It was like a bandaid that was ripped off right away.”

The pain is two-fold for Londono because the things she watched her daughter struggle with are the same things she went through at 12.

“I didn’t know what to do about it because I didn’t know what to do about it back then when I was 12,” she said. “No one would help me then.”

Londono continues to battle mental health and addiction today.

In November, she and her kids were living with her mother and stepfather in Gordon Head. But, following a breakup, Londono attempted suicide and the Ministry of Child and Family Development told her she had to leave her kids and move out. Before going, Londono said she told the ministry workers that Ally needed rehab, but that they said there were no programs for someone so young and they would get her a counsellor.

“She needed something more long term than that,” Londono said.

In Greater Victoria, there are no rehab programs for youth under 13. A spokesperson for the Victoria Youth Empowerment Society said they probably get one to two such requests a year and they aren’t able to admit them. But, Island Health said age requirements can be waived depending on the circumstances.

READ ALSO: Fentanyl toxicity rises, carfentanil deaths spike: 165 fatal overdoses in 1st month of 2021

Londono said she feels pain and guilt, fearing that her daughter’s struggles were inherited, but that she hopes sharing her story prevents another family from going through the same.

“I just want them to know these drugs are so deadly,” she said. “They think they’re having fun, but they could die any second.”

Londono said she’ll always remember Ally as a beautiful soul and her best friend.

The Vancouver Island Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at 1-888-494-3888. Crisis text services are available at 250-800-3806 between 6 and 10 p.m., seven days a week. The Island Health Youth Tier 5 team provides integrated services to youth with substance and mental health challenges. It can be found at islandhealth.ca.


Do you have a story tip? Email: jane.skrypnek@blackpress.ca.

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