“Moment of madness”: rare drug implicated in student death

Two St Andrews stu­dents arrested and another dead in relation to drugs

April 25, 2013 8:02 am 7 comments
lewis greig

Lewis Greig

The arrest of two St Andrews stu­dents for allegedly supplying drugs and the tragic death of another in what is suspected to be a fatal reac­tion to a psychedelic has pointed to a culture at odds with St Andrews’ public image.

On Friday 12 April, Nicholas Friend, 19, and Stewart Wright, 22, appeared at Cupar Sheriff Court charged with being concerned with the supply of illegal drugs. The pair made no plea and were released on bail.

Friend and Wright’s appearance in court came one day before rela­tives switched off the life support of Lewis Greig, 21, who is believed to have died as a result of a fatal reac­tion to the drug DOC. Greig had been on life support for three days before his family turned off the machine.

In an email sent to all students and staff, Professor Louise Richardson, St Andrews’ Principal, explained that Greig had been taken ill after submit­ting his final year dissertation. “He was attended by paramedics and tak­en to hospital in Dundee but never recovered,” she wrote.

Although the toxicology report is still awaited, Greig’s mother has spo­ken publicly about her son’s death, telling reporters that he suffered a fatal reaction to the drug DOC.

In an interview with The Citizen she added that Greig had planned to study positive psychology “because it didn’t involve the use of drugs, and that’s why this was a moment of madness.”

Classified as a psychedelic drug, DOC is similar to LSD and its effects of increased awareness, euphoria, and heightened senses can last up to two days.

In February 2013, a student at Houston State University was hos­pitalised after taking the drug but survived.

Greig was revived by paramedics but after three days on life support at Ninewells hospital his family made the decision to switch off his life sup­port on the morning of Saturday 13 April.

In her email on Monday 15 April, Professor Richardson described Lewis as a “gregarious, compassion­ate, tolerant, open-minded and af­fectionate young man.” She added: “I know that news of Lewis’s tragic death has come as a great shock to our community, to all who knew him and to residents of Agnes Blackadder Hall, where he lived.

“A bright student who came to St Andrews from Balwearie High School in Kirkcaldy, Lewis had hoped to continue to postgraduate study in Psychology. Away from his studies, he was a keep-fit enthusiast, enjoyed weight training and run­ning, and had been a regular user of our Sports Centre.

“Lewis came from a very close family, who had dinner together only last Sunday. He is survived by his parents Alan and Jackie and a young­er sister Hollie, who is a student at Edinburgh University.”

Rachael Millar, a classmate of Greig’s, told The Saint that his at­titude towards life was always a breath of fresh air. She said: “It is still too strange to believe that he’s not with us anymore.

“Every time that somebody walks in late for class, I turn around expect­ing it to be him because it always was. I would say ‘rest in peace’, but ‘rest’ has never been a word that I would associate with you since you were always having too much fun for that.

“His Psychology classmates of 2013 will always re­member him, his contagious smile, and will keep a place for him in our hearts.”

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  • One might rightly call me (over-)sensitive but this article seems a little premature. Full of implication, allegation and belief, this article elucidates nothing that other papers have not already exposed. The article seems to exploit the uncertain circumstances of a tragic student death for the purposes of asking wider (and, for the moment, relatively insignificant) questions about the university’s culture and public image, in addition to naming-and-shaming individuals. The death itself comes across as a mere by-product of these questions. With no funeral yet held, or even arranged, and the emotional wounds of friends and family still slowly healing, one wonders if you had really (and I mean really) given due thought to the student’s friends and family, the latter being conspicuously quoted (second or third-hand) in your headline, either (to speculate myself) for its neat alliteration, or due to a slight lack of consideration

    Without wanting to (re-)open debate on the purposes of the student journalism (cf. ‘student convicted for possessing cannabis’), it would seem that the postponement of this story would have not only shown good judgment – in a period that has sadly seen more than one death – but it also would have provided you with more facts with which to write a more incisive and timely article about St Andrews’ public image.

    As someone who knew Lewis personally and with his death not even passed into the realms of memory, but still very much in the front of my mind, the purpose of my ‘comment’ is not to decry The Saint, but to urge discretion for future editions.

  • James, perfect

  • I am in full agreement with James. Essentially what you have done in this piece, is to minimize someone’s life- not just someone- a fellow student. You have turned a very horrible event into gossip and I’m frightened to think that a group of students were comfortable with publishing this piece. There is much more to a life than making an example and drawing wild assumptions. This incident is incredibly fresh and most of us still expect to see Lewis turning the corner around the street. All I can hope is that you treat future events with the same amount of compassion and respect you would want for yourself.

  • While this is a very tragic death, and indeed, very recent, I think it would be wrong to criticise The Saint for reporting on an incident that involved a rare but very dangerous drug, which is the crux of the story. The article refers directly to the Principal’s email and a touching tribute from a classmate so I do not believe it is fair to say it is an insensitive piece. Essentially, The Saint has an obligation to its readers to inform them of a rare drug that is potentially circulating St Andrews.

    • No it does not. There is an unwritten rule in student journalism that you do not write about student deaths PARTICULARLY not so soon after they’ve occurred. I know Jonathan is trying to be ‘professional’ but this is crass. The unwritten rule is there precisely because of the reasons outlined James and Avalon’s posts. This is a very small community and reporting a student death can be painful and interpreted as insensitive. I think we are owed a direct reply from The Saint’s editors on this.

    • The aims/crux of this story can be disputed as much as you want. What cannot be disputed is that the article has caused offence – you only have to look as far as these comments, and The Saint’s facebook page to realise that. Since the article was meant to raise awareness of this dangerous drug but has immediately caused offence means that it was either written too soon and/or that its aims were poorly articulated. I think it would be wrong to dispute my criticism of the article, because I speak for a substantial number of people who also felt it was insensitive.

  • Never mind the dozens killed in alcohol related accidents it this time period for now. Never mind the millions and millions passing on 10, 20, 30 even more years lost in persons’ life from alcohol. Very sorry about Lewis, yet my point of view is that one of the most dangerous, deadly drugs is still legal, and part of peoples lives. People need better alternatives than alcohol;something where lucidity is present. Throughout the whole world people die, while people carelessly say “well, he couldn’t handle his liquor”. The trouble is the criminalization, and the entirety of the generalizing. Educate people, help them with risks and stop the costly locking up of so many people. ALCOHOL is the evil drug!!!!!!!!

What do you think?

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