Overdose Deaths Remain High
Prince George, B.C. – No end in sight to the excessively high number of illicit overdose deaths in British Columbia this year.
According to the latest statistics from the BC Coroners Service (Jan. 1 through Oct. 31), the total number of deaths from drug overdoses was 622, compared to 397 for the same period in 2015.
The total number of illicit drug deaths in October was 63, up from 57 in September, but very close to the average number of deaths each month for the past year (61.3).
Fentanyl remains present in a large percentage of the overdose deaths. From Jan. 1 through Sept. 30, fentanyl was detected in 332 cases, or about 60% of all illicit drug overdoses. That is almost triple the number of fentanyl-detected deaths for the same period last year.
The numbers also show the proportion of males drying from illicit overdoses has steadily increased over the past four years. In 2012, 71.2% of those who died in these circumstances were male. This year that number has increased to 80.7%.
The Fraser Health Authority had the highest number (211) of illicit drug overdose deaths from Jan. to Oct. 2016 which makes up 33.9% of all illicit overdose deaths during that period. There were 36 illicit drug overdose deaths in Northern Health, 10 more over the same time a year ago.
With the number of deaths remaining so high, the BC Coroners Service asks anyone using illicit drugs or accompanying anyone who is using to take the following steps:
- Never use alone
- Having naloxone present and readily available when using; and
- Knowing the signs of an overdose and calling 911 immediately
In response to the latest statistics, Premier Christy Clark will lead a delegation of people personally affected by overdoses to Ottawa to share their experiences and thoughts on additional actions all levels of government can take. The group will have private meetings with key federal officials on Nov. 17 to share their stories and ideas.