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Drug overdose deaths in BC skyrocket

There were 113 suspected drug overdose deaths in August 2017. This is a 79% increase overthe number of death occurring in August 2016 (63).

In a report release Thursday, the BC Coroners Service said suspected drug overdose deaths increased by almost 80 percent from 2016.

“There were 113 suspected drug overdose deaths in August 2017,” the report detailed.

“This is a 79% increase over the number of death occurring in August 2016 (63).”

The report summarizes all unintentional illicit drug overdose deaths in British Columbia (accidental and undetermined) that occurred between January 1, 2007 and August 31, 2017, inclusive. The report includes confirmed and suspected illicit overdose deaths.

Inclusion Criteria. The illicit drug overdose category includes the following:

  • Street drugs (Controlled and illegal drugs: heroin, cocaine, MDMA, methamphetamine, illicit
  • fentanyl etc.)
  • Medications not prescribed to the decedent but obtained/purchased on the street, from
  • unknown means or where origin of drug not known
  • Combinations of the above with prescribed medications

Report Summary:

  • There were 113 suspected drug overdose deaths in August 2017. This is a 79% increase overthe number of death occurring in August 2016 (63).
  • The number of illicit drug overdose deaths in August 2017 (113) equates to about 3.6 deaths per day for the month.
  • In 2017, individuals aged 19-59 have accounted 91% of illicit drug overdose deaths. Males accounted for 82% of all suspected illicit drug overdose deaths over the same period.
  • The three townships experiencing the highest number of illicit drug overdoses in 2017 to date are Vancouver, Surrey, and Victoria.
  • Fraser and Vancouver Coastal Health Authority have had the highest number of illicit drugoverdose deaths (335 and 306 deaths, respectively) to date in 2017, making up 63% of all illicit drug overdose deaths during this period.
  • Vancouver Coastal Health Authority has the highest rate of illicit drug overdose deaths (38.9 deaths per 100,000 individuals) and also experienced the largest increase in rate from 2016 (63% increase) among all the health authorities. Overall, the rate of illicit drug overdose deaths in BC increased 53% to 31.6 deaths per 100,000 individuals from the 2016 rate of 20.7 deaths per 100,000 individuals.
  • Rates of illicit drug overdose deaths are highest in Vancouver, Okanagan, Fraser East, Central Vancouver Island, and North Vancouver Island Health Services Delivery Areas.
  • Vancouver Coastal, Vancouver Island, and Northern health authorities saw an increase in the number of illicit drug overdose deaths in August 2017 compared to July 2017.
  • 88.5% of illicit drug overdose deaths occurred inside (58% private residences, 30.5% other inside locations) and 11% occurred outside in vehicles, sidewalks, streets, parks, etc.
  • There were no deaths at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites.
  • This figure illustrates the comparison of illicit drug overdose deaths to other common causes of unnatural deaths in 2016.

The full report can be viewed here.