161 people died of illicit drug overdose in B.C. in March

Coroners service says first three months of 2018 show no sign of crisis letting up

A total of 391 people in B.C. died from illicit drug overdoses in the first three months of 2018, suggesting there is no sign over the opioid crisis easing.

In its latest report Thursday, the BC Coroners Service said 161 people died of an overdose in March alone – a 24-per-cent increase from the same time in 2017. That equates to more than five deaths per day.

The three townships seeing the highest number of deaths remain Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria where lives claimed have reached 102, 55 and 34 respectively.

People aged 19 to 39 makeup the largest demographic of British Columbians dying from overdose deaths – or 188 people.

Overdose deaths by city
Infogram

Despite efforts by government and health officials to increase harm reduction methods – such as free opioid-reversing nalaxone kits, safe consumption sites and fentanyl test strips – concerning trends have continued to plague all corners of the province.

About eight in 10 of the 391 deaths between January and March were due to the illicit versions of the painkiller fentanyl, according to toxicology reports by the coroners service.

Men remain to face the lions share of overdose deaths of about 80 per cent, or 319 lives lost.

And more than 90 per cent of overdose deaths have occurred inside, with 62 per cent in private residence and 29 per cent inside other locations. Meanwhile, there have been no deaths at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites in the province since opening in 2016 and 2017.

The BC Coroners Service is urgently reminding those using any illicit drugs not to use alone and carry a nalaxone kit.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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