April worst month so far for drug overdose deaths in 2017 in British Columbia

April worst month so far for drug overdose deaths in 2017 in British Columbia

New numbers released by the province Wednesday shows 136 people died of suspected drug overdoses in British Columbia in April. 

That compares to 69 deaths in the same month in 2016. The numbers from April 2017 comes to about 4.5 deaths per day for the entire month. 

So far in 2017, there have been 488 drug overdose deaths. Over half of all illicit drug deaths involved people between the ages of 30 to 59. Over 80 per cent of the people who died were men. 

Victoria now has the third highest number of drug overdose fatalities for this year with 37 deaths. Vancouver recorded the highest number of fatalities at 144 people followed by Surrey at 51. 

Fentanyl-related deaths appear to account for the increase in overall drug overdose deaths in 2012. Without fentanyl-detected deaths, the number of illicit drug overdose deaths has remained relatively stable since 2011, with an average of 305 deaths per year. There were 61.8 per cent related deaths in 2016 and 61.2 per cent from January to February of this year. 

Almost 95 per cent of illicit drug overdose deaths happened inside, with 54.1 per cent in a private residence. 

“It is of great concern that despite the harm-reduction measures now in place and the public-safety messages issued, many people are still using illicit drugs in private residences where help is not readily available,” Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe said in a statement.

“I strongly urge those using illicit drugs to do so only at a safe consumption site or drug overdose prevention site, if one is accessible. If one of these sites is not accessible, please use only a small amount of the drug initially and only in the presence of someone willing and able to administer naloxone and call 911 if required. The risks associated with all illicit drugs in the province are extreme, and access to emergency medical assistance is essential to prevent fatal consequences.”

Alexa HuffmanAlexa Huffman

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