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

COVID-19: Bow Horn Bay Fire Department helps isolated community members connect

Residents encouraged to hang colours in their windows to indicate what they need

COVID-19: ER nurse from Qualicum Beach self-isolates in travel trailer, apart from family

Marcia Kent says situation is difficult but worth it to keep twin boys safe

COVID-19: Dashwood fire department offers birthday parades for kids and seniors

‘Let people know the world is still turning despite the isolation and the quarantine’

Errington Farmers Market to go ahead with planned May opening

Strict safety measures to be put in place

COVID-19 death toll reaches 50 in B.C., while daily case count steadies

B.C. records 34 new cases in the province, bringing total active confirmed cases to 462

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

VIDEO: Community rallies around Campbell River fire victims

Emergency Social Services volunteers logged over 100 hours in first day after fire

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

Reality TV show about bodybuilders still filming in Okanagan, amid COVID-19

Five bodybuilders from across the country flew to Kelowna to move into a house for a reality TV show

B.C.’s top doctor details prescription for safe long weekend

Yes, it includes hosting an online cooking show

BC SPCA seeks help for abandoned German shepherd puppies

Donations have ‘petered out’ as doors are closed due to COVID-19

COVID-19 PQB business update: looking for takeout food?

Email messages to editor@pqbnews.com

Most Read