More than 200 people in British Columbia died from toxic illicit drugs last month.
According to a preliminary data report released by the BC Coroners Service Friday, there were at least 207 deaths from toxic illicit drugs in January, the fourth straight month in a row where deaths exceeded 200 or more. It’s also the third-highest number of deaths recorded in a single calendar month in B.C.
“We know that illicit substances in our province are toxic and that those dependent on them are vulnerable to serious harms and death,” Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner, said in a press release. “Ensuring access to safer supply, establishing a substance use system of care, and turning the focus away from punishing and stigmatizing are critical steps to resolving this public health emergency.”
The preliminary report notes that 72 per cent of those who died last month were between the ages of 30 and 59, with the vast majority being male.
Municipalities with the highest number of illicit drug toxicity deaths in January were Vancouver, Surrey and Kamloops, the report states. Vancouver Coastal and Fraser health authorities — the two biggest health authorities by population — accounted 61 per cent of all deaths in January.
The report also states that 85 per cent of all deaths took place inside — 55 per cent of those occurring in private residences — while 14 per cent occurred outside in vehicles, on sidewalks and in the streets.
No deaths have been reported at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites.