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

Being Young: ‘I promise it’s relevant’

What would happen to Canada if Iran and the United States went to war?

Maple Ridge concert to feature “pop” music of the Middle Ages to the Renaissance

Candlelight Concert Series takes place at Westacres in Maple Ridge

Meadowridge students unleash their robotic talents

FIRST LEGO League competition took place at Meadowridge School

Pitt Meadows ball hockey goalie gets call up to Team Canada

Matteo Petrelli will mind net for U20 team at world championships in Switzerland this summer

Huawei exec’s extradition hearing begins in Canada

China’s foreign ministry complained the United States and Canada were violating Meng’s rights

Prince Harry: ‘Powerful media’ is why he’s stepping away

Prince Harry and Megan have stepped away from their royal commitments

VIDEO: SPCA and RCMP remove several animals, including pig, at private animal rescue in Langley

Home at 5500 block of 216th Street has undergone multiple seizures over the past five years

How to beat Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year

Multiple factors can play a role in seasonal depression, says Fraser Health psychiatrist

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

Most Read