The number of illicit drug overdose deaths in BC has surpassed last year’s total — and is averaging 3.5 per day.
The BC Coroner’s Service says 113 people died from suspected overdoses in August, a 79% increase from the same month in 2016.
It brings the yearly total to one-thousand and 13, almost double the 547 from a year ago.
Over 80% of the drug deaths this year have involved fentanyl, which is combined with other drugs like cocaine, heroin or meth.
There has bean 16 overdose deaths in Vernon this year, four more than a year ago.
Kelowna has had 60, up from 47 in 2016, and Kamloops has had 32 (had 43 in 2016).
Pictured: Lisa Lapointe, BC’s chief coroner
“It’s heartbreaking to see the continued high numbers of deaths throughout the province despite the numerous initiatives and harm-reduction measures in place,” says chief coroner Lisa Lapointe. “This highlights the complexities of drug dependency and illicit drug use, and the importance of a co-ordinated, health-focused approach to this medical issue. We also need people to know that no illicit substance in this province can be considered safe, whether you know your dealer or not. Anyone using an illicit substance must be prepared for an adverse effect and must have someone else present who is willing and able to help.”
Here are some current key trends in 2017 suspected illicit drug-overdose death cases:
* Vancouver Coastal Health Authority has the highest rate of illicit drug overdose deaths among all health authorities at 38.9 deaths per 100,000 individuals and also experienced the largest increase in rate from 2016 at a 63% increase;
* almost three out of every four deaths involved persons between the ages of 30 and 59 years;
* four out of five who died were male;
* nine out of every 10 deaths occurred indoors, including more than half in private residences; and
* no deaths occurred at any supervised consumption site or at any of the drug overdose prevention sites.