Samples of pure drugs that could kill the average human - heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil, a synthetic opioid 100 times more powerful than fentanyl - at the New Hampshire State Police Forensic Laboratory in Concord. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Salwan Georges.

Fatal overdoses in B.C. drop 30% during first half of year

A total of 538 people have died between January and June, BC Coroners Service reports

B.C.’s overdose crisis appears to be seeing much-needed reprieve, according to the latest report from the provincial coroners service.

The promising news, released Friday, comes as B.C. saw 73 fatal overdoses in June – a 35 per cent decrease compared to the same month last year. That marks the lowest number of fatal overdoses since September 2016.

‘A BALANCED VIEW’: How to talk to kids about B.C.’s overdose crisis

A total of 538 people have been killed by the toxic drug supply, predominately in Vancouver, Surrey, Victoria and Abbotsford; and is 30 per cent less than the death toll during the same time period in 2018, when 763 lives were lost.

This means that about 18 people are dying from illicit drugs every week, down from the roughly 28-per-week average last year.

READ MORE: Carfentanil, an opioid more toxic than fentanyl, linked to more deaths in B.C.

But while the downward trend is encouraging, the province said the rate remains “unacceptable high.”

In an emailed statement to Black Press Media, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions said: “The overdose crisis continues to take a heartbreaking toll in communities across B.C. with two to three British Columbians dying every day in June due to the unpredictable and toxic drug supply.”

READ MORE: ‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

While not one single overdose has ended in death at any overdose prevention site nor safe consumption site in the province to date, frontline workers are still up against an unfathomable amount of illicit drugs.

Illegal fentanyl was detected in four of every five toxicity tests during autopsies this year, according to the coroners service. Carfentanil – used to tranquilize elephants and other large animals – has been found in 49 deaths.

“Our thoughts go out to families grieving the loss of their loved ones throughout the province,” the ministry continued. “We remain committed to escalating our response, so we can save more lives and connect more people to treatment and recovery.”

An estimated 4,700 deaths have been averted due to the distribution of free naloxone kits within the past year and a half, the province added. Other initiatives include opening mobile overdose prevention sites across B.C., expanding access to suboxone treatment and launching collaborative programs in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Overdose deaths by city
Infogram


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cougar euthanized after attacking small dog in Dunsmuir area

Attack happened during middle of the day while family was outside painting house

Sand sculptor creates special eagle head in Qualicum Beach

Kaube fashions work behind Civic Centre

Qualicum Beach seniors hiking group tackles alpine trails

Annual trip involves taking helicopter to remote locations

Parksville asks for help identifying veterans for special banner project

Program to honour veterans whose names are listed on Parksville cenotaph

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

Five B.C. First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

B.C. marine ecologist wants Canada to sink its teeth into shark protection

Gulf Islands scientist says top predator under shocking threat from human behaviour

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Opposition trying to draw parallels between decision to have Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. run program and the WE controversy

Nanaimo woman will buy ‘supersonic’ hair dryer after $500,000 lotto win

Debra Allen won $500,000 in July 28 Lotto Max draw

Ottawa sets minimum unemployment rate at 13.1% for EI calculation

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July

$45K in donations received after couple’s sudden death in Tulameen

Sarah MacDermid, 31, and Casey Bussiere, 37, died August long weekend

Famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer brings movements of joy to Long Beach

Internet-famous dancer is exploring Vancouver Island, visiting the B.C. Legislature and more

Most Read