Rio RyanDecember 29, 2000 - March 20, 2022
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West Jordan, Utah –
Rio Ryan passed away March 20, 2022 from a suspected fentanyl drug overdose. Rio Ryan turned 21 on December 29, 2021. He was born in Flagstaff, Arizona as a 32-week premature Elvis look alike baby. Rio was much loved in our little mountain town of Flagstaff, Arizona. The entire Montessori school of Flagstaff Junior Academy cried when on December 2011 we moved to Murray, Utah. Rio had difficulty adjusting at 10 years old in middle of the school year to Utah culture.
He was a fun and likable kid and did make new friends. In 7th grade, Rio had two friends from school in Murray die from a gun accident and suicide. Rio soon became depressed and started to lose interest in things he used to enjoy. He started experimenting with alcohol, marijuana, pills and LSD. Rio started methamphetamines toward the beginning of the 10th grade. His self-medication soon turned into Heroin use towards the end of the school year.
Rio ran away after he tested positive for meth on a home drug test. He lived on the street for 2 weeks where his heroin and meth use advanced. He was in and out of rehabs and detox until the day he died of a suspected accidental drug overdose on March 20, 2022 (Spring Equinox).
During the last 6 years, Rio continued to struggle with depression and anxiety and continued to self-medicate with street and prescription drugs to help him cope. We suspect he was recently using Xanax laced with fentanyl and this is what killed him, but we will not know until the results of the autopsy.
Rio was incredibly intelligent, intuitive, and wise, he had theories and ideas that could change the world. He was a writer, a poet, a lover, a scientist, a fighter, and a dreamer. He had dreams of finishing school, going places no one has gone before, and helping other people going through things just like himself.
There are very little options for mental health and addiction. The options that are available are priced out of reach for most of us. The insurance system has made the deductible more important than keeping people healthy by costing many families out the possibility of treatment.
Our current system failed Rio, he was unable to consistently get the resources that he needed. We tried vocational rehab, multiple inpatient, and outpatient programs but few ever followed up with us or gave him the level of assistance he needed. We must do better!
I don’t know the right answers, but what I do know is that as a society we must take steps to protect our most vulnerable. Rio’s difficulty started in the 7th grade, maybe if mental health and drug addiction was better taught and more accessible, we as a society would have less young people dying from drugs.
We need to create affordable treatment that is compassionate and helpful. We must work harder to provide good rehabs, because not all treatment centers are caring. But most of all, we need to do what Rio would do and just love one another unconditionally.
If you know or suspect someone using fentanyl please speak out! And if you’re struggling, you’re not alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, don’t let pride cost you your life. You are worth it, there is a future after addiction. It doesn’t make you a snitch or a bad person for speaking out about someone using fentanyl it will save their life. Fentanyl will kill you, the people putting it into our community are truly evil. They do not care about you or anyone else. Please call the police and help get this off our streets before something like this happens to your friend, brother, sister or sibling, or your son, daughter or child.