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

Wet’suwet’en herreditary chiefs meet with provincial, federal ministers

Neither party speaking on the groundwork laid for tomorrow’s talks

Coastal GasLink agrees to two-day pause of pipeline construction in Morice River area

Work will stop once Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs begin talks with province and feds

RCMP cease patrols on Morice West Service Road

Withdrawal opens door for talks today between hereditary chiefs, province and federal gov

Terrace cab stolen, found destroyed along Hwy 16 riverbank at rest stop near Prince Rupert

Driver was sent to hospital after stealing the running vehicle from company lot

CGL must revise impact assessment on Unist’ot’en Healing Center

Environmental Assessment Office not satisfied with report’s shortcomings

‘Shocking but not suprising’: Sexual assaults at B.C. tree planting camps unearthed by survey

Contractors’ association is working with trainers to create respectful culture

Lawyer gets house arrest for possessing child porn

Maple Ridge resident gets nine-month term

Notorious B.C. fugitive to be extradited from California on murder charge

Brandon Nathan Teixeira submitted to extradition during court proceedings Thursday in Sacramento

Canada prepared to monitor for community spread of COVID-19: Tam

The U.S. confirmed one case of the new coronavirus, or COVID-19, in California Thursday

Decade-long health care battle draws to a close today in B.C.

Dr. Brian Day began his battle a decade ago against the B.C. government

Speaker ‘will not tolerate illegal activity’ on B.C. legislature grounds, says chief of staff

Chief of staff to the B.C. speaker Alan Mullen says situation with demonstrators appears ‘fluid’

Conservative MP questions whether rail blockades constitute terrorism

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett travelled to B.C. to meet Indigenous leaders

Most Read