UPDATED: More than 130 people in B.C. died of illicit drug overdoses in July

BC Coroners Service says that’s an average of four deaths per day

There were 134 overdose deaths due to illicit drug overdoses in July, as the latest data from the BC Coroners Service show how volatile the opioid crisis can be.

The deaths mark a 12-per-cent increase over the same month last year, and a 25-per-cent uptick from June. It equates to four deaths per day.

The highest numbers of deaths – about 35 – were recorded in July’s income assistance week.

Since 2009, 40 per cent more people have died on what many call Welfare Wednesday and the days that follow, B.C. Centre for Substance Use research scientist Lindsey Richardson told Black Press Media.

“What we know is that when people have more money, they spend more, and that’s for everyone,” she said.

Richardson, who’s also an associate sociology professor at UBC, has been conducting a study on what would happen if the province were to split the one income assistant cheque into two every month, or not making the payments one universal day province-wide.

“One of the things unique to substance use is that while there is an individual effect everyone has when they get paid, there’s also a social effect. Substance use often has social cues that prompt people to use more than they otherwise would.”

Factors being taken into account are people’s reliance on the monthly cheque to pay rent, pay back their drug dealers and other bills.

The experiment, which involves about 100 people, is in its third year. Data won’t be conclusive until early next year.

Downward trend brings slim hope

July’s overdose death toll followed a four-month downward trend. Each month saw a slight relief compared to the same month in 2017.

Richardson said British Columbians is trying to hang on to any bit of good news.

“If we have a good month or two, it’s encouraging. But I think we can’t lose the forest for the trees here,” she said. “Rates might be decreasing month over month, but the rates overall are higher than they are for 2017.”

The three cities to see the most deaths were Vancouver, with 231 so far this year, Surrey with 125, and Victoria with 56.

Overdose deaths by city
Infogram

“In terms of people thinking it’s just a problem on the Downtown Eastside, the coroner’s data is province-wide,” she added.

“People might be tired about hearing about it, and they might not want another news story about how awful the situation is. We’re really talking about people’s lives right now.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Proposal could see Haisla reserve double in size

Ellis Ross says waterfront development would be ideal

Kitimat CDC benefits from special technology for special kids

“The kids participate now where they didn’t before.”

Home care declines as B.C. senior population grows, advocate says

More deferring property tax, using rent subsidy to stay at home

Student rangers sought for Terrace

Young adults interested in student ranger program have until Feb. 24 to apply

Skeena Sawmills audit good overall, but fault found in tree planting

Violation only issue discovered in Forest Practices Board report

Keep focus on helping Canadians at home, Trudeau tells MPs at start of meeting

Trudeau said the Liberals will offer Canadians hope amid issue like climate change and global tensions

Pettersson returns to lead Canucks to 3-2 win over Red Wings

Vancouver’s super rookie has 2 points in first game back after knee injury

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

12 poisoned eagles found on Vancouver Island

Improper disposal of euthanized animal suspected

Olympic softball qualifier to be held in B.C.

Tournament is to be held Aug. 25 to Sept. 1

B.C. resident creates global sport training program

The 20 hour course teaches the science and application of interval training at the university level

B.C. VIEWS: Fact-checking the NDP’s speculation tax on empty homes

Negative-option billing is still legal for governments

May plans next move in Brexit fight as chances rise of delay

Some say a lack of action could trigger a ‘public tsunami’

Most Read