Man dies after psychedelic healing ceremony: Police

Ambulance in Rotterdam, Netherlands
Stock photo of an ambulance in the Netherlands. April 1, 2019photo: jomahepu@gmail.com / DepositPhotos

A person believed to be participating in a psychedelic healing session at a home in IJzendijke, Zeeland, died after suffering from health complaints. Authorities are investigating if the use of “hallucinatory products” led to the man’s death.

“This could be the cause of his discomfort, but that is still being investigated by doctors,” police said in a statement.

A 36-year-old man from Terneuzen was taken into custody as a suspect in the man’s death.

Police confirmed the victim was brought by acquaintances to a hospital in Oostburg at about 3 a.m. on Wednesday, where nurses began resuscitating him even before he was brought into the medical facility. He was then airlifted to a hospital in Ghent, Belgium, where he was pronounced dead.

Authorities are treating both the IJzendijke home and the drop-off point at the Oostburg hospital as crime scenes. The victim’s identity was still under investigation as of 10 a.m. on Wednesday, police said.

The arrested suspect drove the victim to the hospital, Omroep Zeeland said. Police were also investigating conflicting statements given by several witnesses, according to the broadcaster.

Healing sessions and ceremonies sometimes involve the use of ayahuasca tea which typically contains dimethyltryptamine (DMT). The drug is heavily restricted in the Netherlands, and is classified as a "List I" drug alongside cocaine, fentanyl, GHB, and heroine. In total, DMT is one of 213 substances categorized as List I.

Earlier this year, five people were arrested at a home in Eersel, Noord-Brabant after a 31-year-old Hungarian man died. His body was found in his Eindhoven residence prior to the arrests in April. His death was allegedly due to his participation in an ayahuasca healing ceremony.

A 38-year-old Italian woman and a 33-year-old Spanish man were arrested for organizing an ayahuasca ceremony on April 24. Another Spanish man, 47, and an Italian man, 25, were held for their participation in the event. Some 12 kilos of ayahuasca was found in the home. Later, a 46-year-old from Rhenen, Utrecht, was taken into custody for organizing the event. All five were released by June 6, but still considered suspects in the investigation.

“Combined with psychotherapy, some psychedelic drugs like MDMA, psilocybin and ayahuasca may improve symptoms of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder,” researcher Cristina Magalhaes said in Can psychedelic drugs heal? a press release from the American Psychological Association last year entitled. “More research and discussion are needed to understand the possible benefits of these drugs, and psychologists can help navigate the clinical, ethical and cultural issues related to their use.”

Tags: