VICTORIA, B.C. – According to the latest statistics from the BC Coroners Service, the number of illicit drug deaths in B.C. continues to be a major cause of concern, with April showing the second-highest recorded numbers in a single month in the province.
Provisional data shows that 136 people died as a result of illicit drug use in April, an average of 4.5 per day, and almost double last April’s total of 69. The April deaths bring the provisional numbers for the year-to-date to 488, and they show that more than half of all illicit drug deaths involved persons between the ages of 30 and 49 years. Four out of five who died were male.
Of note, nine in 10 illicit drug overdose deaths occurred indoors, including more than half in private residences (54.1%). No deaths occurred at any supervised consumption site, or at any of the drug overdose prevention sites.
“It is of great concern that despite the harm-reduction measures now in place and the public-safety messages issued, many people are still using illicit drugs in private residences where help is not readily available,” said chief coroner Lisa Lapointe. “I strongly urge those using illicit drugs to do so only at a safe consumption site or drug overdose prevention site, if one is accessible. If one of these sites is not accessible, please use only a small amount of the drug initially and only in the presence of someone willing and able to administer naloxone and call 911 if required. The risks associated with all illicit drugs in the province are extreme, and access to emergency medical assistance is essential to prevent fatal consequences.”
So far in 2017, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority has the highest number of illicit drug-overdose deaths with 171, or 35 percent of all illicit drug-overdose deaths. The Fraser Health Authority has seen 145 deaths this year, or 29.7 percent of all illicit drug-overdose deaths).
Meanwhile, the Northern Health Authority has only recorded a total of 14 fatal overdoses from illicit drugs. In Northeast B.C. that number sits at just two fatal overdoses this year, one of which occurred last month. Northeast B.C. also has the second-lowest rate of fatal drug overdoses, at just 8.4 deaths per 100,000.