Park City officials warn parents after two students die, third attempts suicide

Posted at 4:07 PM, Sep 14, 2016

PARK CITY, Utah -- While police search Park City High School and the area junior high schools with drug sniffing K9's another threat to students is apparent.

"This morning the Park City Police Department received a report of an attempted suicide by a 15-year-old Park City juvenile," said Captain Phil Kirk with the Park City Police Department.

Kirk went on to say it appears the student tried to overdose on Tylenol and is expected to make a full recovery.

Ember Conley, Park City School District Superintendent, said the student was from an inner circle of friends for one of two 13-year-olds who were found dead over the last few days.

Grant Seaver was found in his home on Sunday morning. Ryan Ainsworth, a boy described as Grant's best friend, was found Tuesday morning in his home.

"Once you have a series of student deaths, there is a phenomena that occurs that's called suicide contagion,” Conley said.

The school district has crisis response teams, consisting of counselors and others in all of their schools. The focus is on Treasure Mountain Junior High School, where Ainsworth and Seaver were students.

A handful of students have been identified as being particularly at risk, including the student who tried to commit suicide. The students are being monitored with the help of parents and sometimes police. Park City police say they have made roughly 20 house calls in the last 24 hours to check on the welfare of students.

While a large effort continues to monitor students for signs of self-harm, another effort began to sweep the schools for drugs.

The cause of death for both Ainsworth and Seaver has not been determined, but after their deaths, the school district and police issued a community warning about a new synthetic drug called "Pink" or "Pinkie".

Drug sniffing dogs swept through the high school and junior highs, and some specific lockers were searched.

"We found a one of the lockers, we've sent it to the lab, it's come back that there is some methamphetamine in it," Conley said.

"Pink", known to law enforcement as U-47700, was added to the list of temporarily Schedule 1 drugs by the Drug Enforcement Agency last week. Park City police believe that makes having or distributing "Pink" a crime.

"Go through your student's, child's, bedroom," Conley said, addressing parents. "Go through their stuff: It's that serious... It's that dangerous."

Kirk said the synthetic drug in question is much more powerful and deadly than other substances available.

"I don't think these young people realize they are dealing with such a powerful drug," he said. "...I just don't think they realize how deadly it can be."

Conley said parents should be concerned if they see their children with things like eye-droppers or nasal inhalers if those items do not have a legitimate label.

Captain Kirk said their investigation into the deaths of Ainsworth and Seaver could eventually lead to criminal charges if it is tied back to the drug.

For now, the investigation is not focused on identifying any criminal intent, but rather on protecting students. Since going public with their concerns, both about "Pink" and the threat of suicide, the district says students are buying in.

"We are getting such a positive response from the peers saying, 'You've got to get rid of this, we don't want to lose one more of us,'" Conley said.

The Safe Utah App, which facilitates tips to school officials and offers other functions, was expected to become available to Park City School District in October, but the state made it available this week and Conley said they held tutorials Wednesday to teach students how to use the app. She said they are relying on students and parents for tips and information so they can address these issues.

The Utah Department of Health confirmed Wednesday there have been deaths related to "pink" in Utah, but they said for patient privacy reasons they cannot confirm specific details or even the total number of deaths associated with the substance. In Utah, 24 people die each month on average from prescription opioid overdoses.

"We are working closely with our public health surveillance systems to monitor the impact U47700 is having on overdoses and deaths in the state," the release from the health department states.