B.C.’s overdose crisis: 127 more people died from suspected drug toxicity last month, coroner says

VANCOUVER — Another 127 people were killed by suspected drug overdoses last month, the latest data from BC Coroners Service shows, a figure that averages to about 4.2 deaths per day.

BC Coroners Service released September’s information on Tuesday, showing a 112 per cent increase compared to the same time last year.

However, there was a 15 per cent decrease from the number of suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths recorded in August. September’s toll was also lower than June’s, which was B.C.’s deadliest month yet in the public health emergency first declared in 2016.

The coroner’s report looks at deaths from street drugs, including heroin, cocaine and fentanyl, as well as medications not prescribed to the person who has died, or combinations of both.

When compared to other common causes of unnatural deaths – suicides, car crashes, homicides and prescription drug overdoses – illicit drugs have been the leading cause of death in B.C. since 2015.

More than 1,100 people have died from suspected drug toxicity so far this year.

The coroner says Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria have experienced the highest number of illicit drug toxicity deaths this year, but no deaths have been reported at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites.

During her COVID-19 briefing Monday, Dr. Bonnie Henry also discussed the overdose crisis.

“We are well aware that our overdose crisis is concentrated in many places in this province,” Henry said.

“This is something that is important across the province and we do have teams in every health authority that are working in communities to support people who use drugs, to make sure they know they can reach out.”

Over the weekend, five people were revived by paramedics in a Surrey home after overdosing from suspected toxic drug supplies. 

“This is another opportunity to remind people that most of our overdose deaths are now happening in people at home and their families may not know that they’re using drugs and people are afraid to talk about it because of the stigma that’s associated and the shame that’s associate with drug use,” Henry said.

“Now is an important time to have those conversations with the people that you love, to make sure they know that there is support out there.”

With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Kendra Mangione 


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