2021 becomes B.C.’s deadliest year ever for illicit drug overdoes, coroner says


The B.C. Coroners Service has announced that 2,224 people died due to suspected drug overdose in 2021 in the province.

In a joint statement released by Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, and Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions the number of deaths in 2021 was a record number.

“It is with a heavy heart that our province continued to experience an unprecedented number of lives lost to the toxic drug supply in 2021. It is beyond devastating that we lost 2,224 peopl: [sic], our brothers, sisters, children, parents, neighbours and friends to toxic drugs. No words can soften these losses,” the statement says.

The 2,224 suspect drug overdoses in 2021 tops the previous record set in 2020 when 1,716 deaths from illicit drug toxicity were reported.

November and December 2021 both had record-high numbers of deaths with 210 in November and 215 in December.

In those two months, there was an average of seven deaths per day, in all of 2021 there was an average of 6.1 deaths per day.

Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health had 62 per cent of all drug overdose deaths, with 765 and 615 deaths, respectively.

In 2021, 83 per cent of drug toxicity deaths occurred inside and 15 per cent occurred outside.

There were no deaths at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites.

The City of Victoria had the third-highest number of overdose deaths, with 126 occurring within the city. This is an increase from the 122 deaths which occurred in the city in 2020.

In 2021, April had the highest number of overdose deaths in Victoria, with 17 deaths occurring that month.

There were 327 suspected drug overdose deaths in Island Health in 2021, which is 37.7 deaths per 100,000 residents.

140 deaths occurred in Southern Vancouver Island, 120 in Central Vancouver Island, and 67 in Northern Vancouver Island.

This is a developing story, more will be added as details become available.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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