FILE – A injection kit is seen inside the newly opened Fraser Health supervised consumption site is pictured in Surrey, B.C., Tuesday, June 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

FILE – A injection kit is seen inside the newly opened Fraser Health supervised consumption site is pictured in Surrey, B.C., Tuesday, June 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

B.C. nears 500 fatal overdoses in 1st quarter of 2021; 158 deaths in March

Deaths mark a 41% increase from March of last year

The number of people who lost their lives to illicit drug overdoses in 2021 hit 498 as of March, the BC Coroner’s Service reported Thursday (April 29).

Data shows that 158 people died in March, tying the all-time record for that month, set in March 2018. It’s the most fatal overdoses ever recorded in the first three months of the year, with last month’s deaths marking a 41 per cent increase from March 2020.

Deaths continue to largely take place in private residences and no fatalities were recorded at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites. Only Vancouver Coastal Health saw more deaths in other residences such as in hotels, motels, rooming houses, single room occupancy, shelters, social and supportive housing than private ones.

So far this year, the highest number of overdose deaths have been in Fraser Health with 171 and Vancouver Coastal Health with 237, making up 62 per cent of all fatalities this year. The highest rates however were in Northern Health with 57 deaths per 100,000 and Vancouver Coastal Health with 38 per 100,000. The overall rate in B.C. is at 38 deaths per 100,000.

Preliminary data showed that 84 per cent of deaths so far this year have have been related to fentanyl, compared to 86 per cent last year. The even more toxic carfentanil has been detected in 48 drug toxicity deaths so far this year, 18 of them in March. In all of 2020, the drug was found in 65 deaths.

Men continued to make up the majority of deaths at 80 per cent and those aged 30 to 59 made up 69 per cent of fatalities.

More to come.


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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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