by Laura Stack
Johnny Stack struggled with social anxiety and panic attacks in high school, which were successfully managed with support, prescription medications, and therapy. He could have been fine. Then at about 16 years old (when he could drive), Johnny discovered marijuana and believed it helped his anxiety. (Yes, we live in Colorado. Yes, it is everywhere. Yes, your kids can get it too unless you chain them to their beds.) He started “dabbing” high-THC marijuana (they smoke a very potent wax or shatter form), which triggered bizarre episodes of psychosis, a first suicide attempt, and delusional thinking (the FBI was after him, the world “knew about him,” the mob had it in for him, we were “in on it,” etc.).
We would dis-enroll him from his current university, admit him to mental hospitals, and they would stabilize him with medications, and he’d recover…until he did the drugs again. He would try other illicit drugs as well. Eventually, even when he stopped using marijuana, the psychosis did not go away, and he developed full-blown schizophrenia.
He was put on anti-psychotics to control the delusion, but he didn’t like how “stupid” they made him feel, because he was extremely intelligent. So, he would stop taking them without telling us (a common problem with the disorder). When he died, he had given up smoking, he wasn’t on drugs, and he wasn’t depressed. But because he wouldn’t take the medications he now needed, the paranoid delusions told him to stop the pain, and he jumped.
I’m not making judgments about your right to use marijuana where it’s legal if you’re over 21, and I am not arguing that it helps you with chronic pain, etc. I’m sharing my direct experience of my 19-year-old son using high-potency marijuana, which triggered psychosis, which led to suicide.
Johnny said 3 days before he died, “You were right all along about the drugs.” He started with high-THC pot, which led to stronger, illicit drugs such as LSD. Then drug-induced schizophrenia led to suicide.
Rest in peace my beloved son
Johnny Kenneth Stack
2/7/00 – 11/20/19
Laura Stack, Colorado. Founder & CEO, The Productivity Pro, Inc.