The BC Coroners Service continues to release grim monthly stats surrounding drug overdose deaths across British Columbia, however, the number of deaths declined for the second month in a row.
On Tuesday morning, the Coroners Service revealed that September 2020 had 127 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths reported in B.C. – the seventh month in a row that has surpassed the 100 mark.
In a press release, the service stated that the drug overdose death toll last month represents a 112 per cent increase from September 2019, which saw 60 deaths. The press release did outline, however, that deaths in September dropped by 15 per cent when compared with August 2020, which had 150 total deaths.
This marks the second month in a row where the death toll from drug overdoses has dropped by 15 per cent or more as July saw 176 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths.
The September death toll equates to approximately 4.2 deaths per day in B.C. as a result of drug overdoses. Victoria continues to be one of the townships experiencing the highest number of illicit drug toxicity deaths in the province, along with Vancouver and Surrey.
Deaths continue to be linked to males, with 80 per cent of the September overdoses being men. Also, 70 per cent of those deaths were aged 30 to 59.
The year 2020 currently ranks as having the third-highest annual total of drug overdose deaths since 1994. So far this year, the B.C. Coroners Service has reported 1,202 illicit drug deaths with still three months to go. The current total for 2020 ranks only behind 2018 (1,547) and 2017 (1,494), according to data from the BC Coroners Service.
The average monthly rate of suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths is currently at an all-time in Britsh Columbia during the year 2020, averaging 133.6 deaths per month.
The BC Coroners Service says that post-mortem toxicology testing data continues to showcase an increase in extreme fentanyl concentrations – exceeding 50 micrograms per litre – in April, May, June, July, August and September of this year, when compared to previous months.
Between April and September 2020, approximately 15 per cent of illicit drug deaths showed signs of extreme fentanyl concentrations, compared with 8 per cent between January 2019 and March 2020.
In September, the BC Coroners Service said that 94 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths had traces of fentanyl detected. The data suggests that approximately 80 per cent of illicit drug toxicity deaths in B.C. in 2020 have had fentanyl detected as well.
The BC Coroners Service says that drug overdose death rates among all age groups have declined from highs in May, June and July and so have the death rates in both males and females.
According to the BC Coroners Service, no deaths have been reported at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites.
Officials continue to encourage British Columbians to use the Lifeguard app, aimed at preventing drug overdoses.