Expanded overdose study finds majority of deaths involved people who used alone and indoors, B.C.’s chief coroner says

Expanded overdose study finds majority of deaths involved people who used alone and indoors, B.C.'s chief coroner says

File photo.

File photo.

In releasing data on suspected illicit drug overdose deaths in August, the BC Coroners Service also released details from a deeper study into overdose deaths in 2016 and 2017.

The report shows the number of overdose deaths mostly involve males, with 81 per cent of the 872 deaths over that time period.

Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe said in a statement the expanded analysis confirmed more than two-thirds of illicit drug deaths were people who used alone and indoors, with 72 per cent living in private residences and 63 per cent died at home.

The study found more than half of the decedents had a reported clinical mental health diagnosis or showed evidence of a mental health disorder and 51 per cent were unemployed.

About one in every four deaths involved people working in trades or transport.

The coroner says 79 per cent of people who died from overdose deaths had contacted health services in the year before their death, and more than half of those had pain related issues.

Fentanyl was detected in just over three of four overdose deaths, with fentanyl in 85 per cent of cases involving people between the ages of 15 and 29.

The report found 14 per cent of overdose deaths were of people that lived in social or single room occupancy housing and nine per cent were homeless.

August overdose rate drops compared to same time last year and in July

In its monthly suspected illicit drugs overdose statistics for August, the BC Coroners Service says the rate dropped 20 per cent compared to August of 2017.

The report says there were 98 overdose deaths last month, with 122 in the same period last year and down from the 134 deaths in July.

There were 19 illicit drug deaths in the Vancouver Island Health Authority last month, unchanged from July’s data.

The coroners’ office says there have been a total of 972 overdose deaths through the first eight months of the year in the province, a rate that is below the pace in 2017.

At this time last year, 1,058 overdose deaths had been recorded.

Data for Victoria shows 64 suspected illicit drug deaths in 2018, third most in the province behind Vancouver (256) and Surrey (131).

Nanaimo has had the sixth highest number of overdose deaths this year with 25.

By health service area, south Vancouver Island has had 83 overdose deaths, on pace to surpass last year’s total of 103.

Central Vancouver Island is just below last year’s rate with 57 people who died from illicit drugs after 95 deaths were recorded last year.

North Vancouver Island has had 17 overdose deaths, with 37 recorded in 2017 in the region.




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