The family of an 18-year-old from Bellevue is grieving after the teen killed himself on Saturday.
Monday, the Smith Family warned others of the danger of using “synthetic marijuana.” They said their son, Tyler Smith, used “potpourri” or “incense” before he took his life.
Bath salts and K2 have recently been in the headlines for the dangers they pose to the public. Now, the Smiths want people to know “potpourri” and “incense” are just other forms of the chemicals and are just as dangerous.
“When he had this incense, he had no expression on his face.” Mike Smith, Tyler’s brother said, “It looked like he couldn’t understand where he was, like he was on another planet.”
Tyler Smith was a senior at Bellevue West High School; he was set to graduate in December. For the past two months he had been working at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Bellevue. “I remember last week he seemed like he was motivated to get up and work,” David Smith, Tyler’s father said.
Tyler faced a tough road because his mother, Kali, said her son suffered from a seizure disorder and Reactive Airway Disease, illnesses that plagued him through school. So much so, it delayed his graduation.
Tyler also suffered mentally. Kali said they tried extensively, through therapy and ant-anxiety medication to help Tyler. She said it was a mother's instinct to know, deep down, her son needed serious help.
"I told these people, I told them all something is wrong. No one listened to me, nobody. Nobody heard me,” Kali said.
Nonetheless, things looked positive for a while even after Tyler was caught with a drug pipe and was completing diversion. Mike said his brother was not a “junkie”, nor did he suffer from a history of drug use.
Then about two weeks ago, the family said Tyler made a complete change. "You have a few kids who bring the stuff into school and you give it to a kid like Tyler, one time your mind is gone, one time,” Kali said.
The family said Tyler got a hold of “Zencense” or a form of synthetic marijuana. For the past two weeks, the family said he had been using it.
Then Saturday afternoon Tyler killed himself with a handgun. The family found a "Zencense" wrapper in one of Tyler’s pockets.
"We never in a million years thought any time in this world Tyler would do that, but that’s the thing, he wasn't in this world when he had that incense,” Mike said.
"I think Tyler had a green light to do it after he got a negative test back,” David said. "Any kid can walk in there and get it… he smoked it and it changed him.”
"We tested for every drug and K2 and it all came back negative,” Kali said.
Bellevue Police said most of the chemicals like "potpourri" and "incense" are not illegal to buy and sell, just to smoke. The department also confirmed with Channel Six News they recovered a pipe with “incense” residue still inside it from the family.
The Nebraska Region Poison Control Center said the chemicals are dangerous. They can cause intense hallucinations, psychotic episodes, and in some cases, thoughts of suicide.
The visitation for Tyler Smith is scheduled for Thursday from 5-7 p.m. at Heafy and Heafey Mortuaries near 78th and Center. Services are set for Friday at 11 a.m. at Westside Church.
The public is welcome to donate money to the family online or by visiting any Buffalo Wild Wings location in Omaha, Council Bluffs and Papillion on Wednesday, October 3rd. Just mention Tyler Smith and 10% of the ticket will go to help the family.