A 22-year-old University of Georgia student killed himself after taking a substance called Kratom and now the parents of the junior are warning others against taking the drug, which they believe led to their son shooting himself. In his suicide note to his parents, John Eden wrote of being helpless and unable to find away out, according to Channel 2 Action News on Tuesday.
“Mom and Dad, I loved you very much,” Lauren Eden read from her son’s suicide note. “Please know there was nothing you could do. I tried everything,”
On May 3 Eden, who was in the Navy intelligence program, shot himself with a .45 caliber handgun at a gas station, the news station reported. In the note, he blamed the drugs.
“I’ve ruined myself with drugs,” Eden continued to read. She said he was referring to the relatively new substance called Kratom, which they found in bags at his apartment. Still, it’s unclear if he mentioned the word Kratom in the note. The substance is marketed as a botanical, which helps to increase energy, focus, and enhance a person’s mood. Georgia’s poison control director told the news station it has not been tested on humans and needs to be regulated.
“People come in anxious, agitated, not having slept for six to seven days,” Dr. Gaylord Lopez said, adding Kratom is highly addictive.
“We know this is not a safe compound, it’s causing problems. Everything from mental status changes to seizures,” he said.
Still, the drug has steadily gained interest for a decade, according to Vocativ. Its popularity has spread across the far reaches of the Internet with dozens of online vendors selling the strains to head shops or directly to consumers, who chew, brew, snort, smoke, ingest and even inject the compound, the site reported.
It’s unclear how long Eden, who is parents called a standout student, was taking the substance and it was also unclear how he obtained it. “I really believe in my heart he did not know what he was doing,” Lauren Eden told the news station. “He thought this stuff was safe and it just spiraled out of control.”
The substance is illegal in several Asian countries, but is legal in 48 states in the United States, the news station reported. Lopez said it needs to be regulated. But the Edens said it needs to be banned. The FDA and DEA have labeled it a compound of concern.
“Just because it’s a root or comes off as something natural does not mean it’s OK,” John Eden said.