Man smoked salvia before jumping to death, family says

March 8, 2011 2:24:49 PM PST
The pictures in Carolyn Santanna's hand were taken one week ago when her brother, Ryan, took her out for her 17th birthday.

Two days ago, Ryan's former girlfriend, who had stopped by the apartment, burst through Carolyn's door.

"She ran into my room screaming he jumped and I thought it was a joke. She stared crying so I ran to the balcony and looked down and I ran to my dad's room and woke him up and all he could scream was 'Ryan! Ryan! Ryan!'" Carolyn Santanna explained.

She says her 21-year-old brother would have never committed suicide. Yet, without warning, he jumped off his 15th floor balcony.

The former girlfriend who was with him at the time says he had just smoked the legal mind altering drug, salvia. It's a plant from the mint family, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Smoking salvia can cause hallucinations and federal authorities label it a "drug of concern" for its growing popularity among teenagers and young adults.

"I was the first one to get to him. He was just there and my dad grabbed his slipper. It was a terrible sight," Santanna said.

Salvia gained notoriety recently when Miley Cyrus was seen smoking salvia on a video obtained by TMZ.

Ryan Santanna dissolved into a fit of laughter about 2 minutes after smoking salvia, says the old girlfriend who watched him do it. He made animal noises, looked at her as if he couldn't see her, pushed her inside the apartment, and then ran and jumped over the balcony.

For Carolyn Santanna, the word "salvia" provokes confusion. She never knew her brother to take it. She knew he loved being with her. She knew he longed for a career as a movie producer, but now his friends will finish his student film, and she will finish growing up without a brother.

"He really didn't deserve to go like that. Or, at all," she said.