Over 150 people died from a drug overdose in B.C. last month, new data shows.
According to figures released by the British Columbia Coroners Service, there were 155 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths in February, making it the eleventh straight month the province has seen more than 100 overdose deaths.
The 155 deaths are the most ever recorded in the month of February. It is also a 107 per cent increase from the number of deaths recorded in February 2020, BCCS notes.
“The number of deaths due to toxic illicit drugs in February highlights the ongoing critical risk to public health and safety from the illicit drug market,” Lisa Lapointe, B.C.’s chief coroner, said in a press release.
An average of 5.5 people died each day from an overdose last month, making it the second straight month where the average daily deaths was above 5.
Furthermore, 15 per cent of those who died in February were people 60 years of age and older and 40 per cent were over age 50, a trend that has been observed in older age cohorts over the last several years, according to the BCCS.
Carfentanil, a more lethal analogue of fentanyl, was found in 12 per cent of deaths last month, which is slightly higher than the previous month and is also the largest monthly figure recorded since April 2019.
“This data emphasizes the alarming increase in the toxicity of the illicit drug supply throughout B.C.,” Lapointe added.
British Columbia has recorded 329 illicit drug deaths this year, with males accounting for 80 per cent of all deaths.
The overwhelming majority of deaths — 58.4 per cent — have occurred in a private residence while 11 per cent have occurred outside.
In its report, BCCS notes the communities with the highest number of deaths so far this year are Vancouver (75), Surrey (46), and Victoria (24).
There have been 116 deaths recorded in Fraser Health, 90 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 48 in Interior Health, 47 in Island Health and 28 in Northern Health.
Of the deaths recorded in the Island Health region this year, 25 have been in South Island, 12 have been Central Island and 10 have been in North Island.
To view the full report, click here.