Coroner confirms WSU student death as third drug overdose this year

From staff reports

Whitman County Coroner Peter Martin confirmed last Wednesday the third drug overdose death of a man at WSU this school year.

WSU student Nader Shihadeh died on November 26, 2016. He was found by his roommate the morning after in their Pullman apartment. Shihadeh, 25, was from Willmette, Illinois.

Two other young adult male WSU students died the month before Shihadeh due to drug overdoses as well.

Alex Callaway died of acute intoxication from opiates and alprazolam (Xanax) and was found in his Pullman apartment on Oct. 11. Brock Lindberg also died of acute intoxication, but from methadone and alprazolam. He was found unresponsive in his bed in the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity on Oct. 24.

Acute fentanyl overdose and respiratory failure caused Shihadeh’s death. In a December 2016 report, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reported fentanyl-related overdose deaths increased from about 550 deaths in 2013 to over 2,000 in both 2014 and 2015.

Seven opioid overdose deaths in Whitman County occurred from 2013 to 2015, according to a Pullman PD news release. Two more overdose deaths due to opiates happened in Pullman since October 2016.

The DEA issued a nationwide alert on fentanyl as a threat to health and public safety in 2015, due to an uptick in deaths and confiscations of the substance by the DEA across the country from 2013 to 2015.

According to the Associated Press, governments began researching fentanyl in 1960 as potential chemical weapon to incapacitate but not kill targets. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) categorizes fentanyl as a weapon of terrorism as well as an illicit drug.

Reporting by Jessica Zhou