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BC Coroners Service releases new report into ongoing overdose epidemic

VICTORIA, B.C. — The BC Coroners Service has released a new report that provides additional details about B.C. residents who have died during the ongoing opioid drug overdose crisis.

The 34-page report, titled ‘Illicit Drug Overdose Deaths in BC: Findings of Coroners’ Investigations,’ re-examined 872 illicit drug overdose death investigations in 2016 and 2017 and came to a number of conclusions.

More than half of those who died had a reported a clinical mental health diagnosis or showed evidence of a mental health disorder, while approximately four in every five people who died had contact with health services in the year preceding their death.

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Other findings from the report are as follows:

  • More than two-thirds used drugs alone;
  • 45 percent of decedents had reported pain-related issues;
  • 14 percent of decedents lived in social or single room occupancy housing and 9% were homeless;
  • About one in every four deaths involved people, primarily males, working in trades or transport;
  • 65 percent of decedents were never married and 18 percent were previously separated or divorced;
  • 44 percent of decedents were employed, while 51 percent were unemployed; and,
  • Fentanyl was detected in just over three in every four deaths.

“Illicit drugs continue to be the source of more than three deaths per day in B.C.,” said B.C.’s chief coroner Lisa Lapointe. “Our expanded analysis confirms that more than two-thirds of these illicit drug deaths in 2016 and 2017 involve people using alone and indoors. We know this leads to a higher risk for death with a toxic drug supply. We continue to urge those using substances to plan to take them in the company of someone who can provide help: administering naloxone and calling 911 for assistance.”

The full report can be read here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/birth-adoption-death-marriage-and-divorce/deaths/coroners-service/statistical/illicitdrugoverdosedeathsinbc-findingsofcoronersinvestigations-final.pdf

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