According to social workers, synthetic drugs are steadily gaining ground in the island. The death of Alexander Cotte came just three months after that of his cousin Brian who died in almost the same circumstances. Annihilated, Jean-Daniel, the father of Alexander and Jane, the sister of Brian, launched a strong appeal to young people so they do not rush into the drug world.
In his eyes, we could see a huge void. His body emaciated, the skull slightly balding, Jean-Daniel Cotte is the image of pain that nothing can assuage. The universe of this inhabitant of Vacoas, aged 62, is like a sky that continues to darken a little more each day. Regrets and tears are omnipresent in his life since his son Emmanuel Alexander Cotte, 21, dies in terrible circumstances a few days ago.
The young man died in his hospital bed on a Saturday, March 26, where he remained for several days after the consumption of a synthetic drug. The autopsy attributed his death to pulmonary edema following the synthesis of drugs. “I no longer live since the death of my son. Alexander was a very bright young man, he had his whole life ahead but the drug destroyed everything. I beg the young people not to take this dirt and not to hurt their parents,” says Jean-Daniel Cotte, retired bartender, in tears.
It is around 8 pm on Monday 21 March, when Jean-Daniel, who is separated from Alexander’s mother, enters the room of Alexander. Three days earlier, an appointment had been taken for Jean-Daniel, blind for six months because of cataract complications. “Comme je ne vois pas, la maman d’Alexandre, mon ex-femme, m’a proposé de m’y conduire en voiture. Et Alexandre devait nous accompagner. Mais vers 8 heures, lorsque je suis allé frapper à sa porte, je n’ai eu aucune réponse,” said the father, in shock. He then enters his son’s room and goes blindly towards his bed.
There, he grabbed the wrist of his son and felt a watch he had given him years earlier. “Je l’ai tiré par le bras, mais il n’y avait aucune réaction. Je l’ai appelé par son nom à plusieurs reprises et il n’y avait pas de réaction. J’ai commencé à paniquer. J’ai appelé un voisin qui a téléphoné au SAMU et mon fils a été conduit à l’hôpital de Candos avant d’être transféré à celui de Jeetoo, à Port-Louis,” he says, voice broken by emotion.
Alexander, he said, stayed on breathing support for two days before being able to breathe normally. This gave a lot of hope for Jean-damiel who was desperately to see his son recover. “Mais les médecins ont dû le placer à nouveau sous respiration artificielle. Et le samedi 26 mars, c’est par un appel téléphonique du poste de police de l’hôpital Jeetoo que j’ai appris le décès d’Alexandre,” cries Jean-Daniel. His cries of pain echoed through the house up to the Tranquille road, Vacoas, and the entire neighborhood was alerted. The nearby residents rushed to the house and thus, learnt the horrible news.
“I was living in a nightmare. Why my son, why him? He was so brilliant.” Jean-Daniel explains that the downward spiral of his son, a former student of the St-Esprit College, started three years ago, when he separated from his mother. “Il l’a très mal vécue. Il n’a même pas pu participer aux examens du School Certificate. Depuis quelques mois, on l’avait inscrit dans une institution à ébène où il étudiait l’informatique, un domaine dans lequel il voulait faire carrière.”
Did Jean-Daniel know his son was consuming illicit products? “Depuis que je ne vois plus, je sentais qu’il y avait des choses bizarres qui se passaient sous mon toit. J’entendais des voix tard dans la nuit. Alexandre disait toujours que c’était ses amis et qu’il ne fallait pas que je m’inquiète. Et la veille du jour où je l’ai retrouvé inconscient dans son lit, j’avais entendu quelqu’un vomir. Je ne sais pas si c’était mon fils ou quelqu’un d’autre,” says the father. Fanchette Melanie, the sister of Jean-Daniel says that family members were aware that Alexander was taking drugs and did everything to stop him: “Je lui ai parlé personnellement. Je l’ai supplié d’arrêter. Il me disait oui à chaque fois. Mais il continuait. C’est très triste.”
The most terrible thing is that the death of Alexander comes just three months after that of his cousin, Brian Cotte, 23 years old. This inhabitant of Cité La Caverne, Vacoas, was found unconscious at the home of a friend of the same locality on January 3rd. At the hospital, medical staff had pronounced him dead and the autopsy had attributed his death to the consumption of a mixture of methadone, Rivotrilet of brown sugar. And on the eve of his death, according to Jean-Daniel Cotte, Brian was at home with his son Alexander.
“Was there foul play?”
Since then, the family of Brian has been surviving the difficulties. His sister Jane relates with a voice filled with emotion: “Mon frère me manque chaque jour. On était très proches. La drogue n’apporte que des malheurs. À la jeunesse, je leur dis que la vie est belle et qu’elle mérite d’être vécue. Il faut juste la vivre sainement.» Jane is still regretting the death of his brother: «Brian était un jeune homme plein de vie. Il faisait le va-et-vient entre Maurice, La Réunion et la France. D’ailleurs, il avait prévu de partir en France vers le 15 janvier ou même avant. Mais il est mort le 3 janvier,” she laments. However, Jane refuses to believe that his brother could consume such a deadly mix. “Was there a foul play? In any case, an investigation has been opened, but I do not know where it has reached.”
In July 2015, Kaleem Ahmad Razack Bacsou, a resident of St. Croix, aged 21, had also succumbed to the consumption of synthetic drugs. Dr. Maxwell Monvoisin, Police Principal Medical Officer, had attributed the death to acute cerebral and pulmonary edema. Other young people have suffered the same fate in recent times because of the synthetic drug or had serious health problems. All over the island, the synthetic drug is gaining, little by little, more ground over days. It is threatening young lives, leading in some cases to inevitable death.
Social workers are mobilizing Vacoas
For Amédée Blain, social worker in the area of Vacoas and Cite La Caverne, it is urgent to act to combat the proliferation of synthetic drugs in the island. “Cette drogue fait des ravages. Ici, à Cité La Caverne, la drogue synthétique se vend comme des petits pains. Heureusement que les habitants commencent à prendre conscience du mal que cette drogue peut faire. Surtout lorsqu’on voit des enfants de 12 ans à peine qui la consomment,” says the man who had organized a march in February in the streets of Vacoas to educate youth and adults to this scourge.
“Après le décès de Brian Cotte, on ne pouvait pas rester les bras croisés,” he said. Alain Laviolette, social worker and also living at Cité La Caverne, has, for his part, established a movement called Valer nou la vi since October 2015, following the emergence of synthetic drugs in his locality. “With the support of several athletes in our locality, I established this movement that brings together local youth. We did several activities such as theater, music and slam. And parents are not left behind. But there must be continuity for things to change,” he says.
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