Province says illicit drug overdoses caused more than 1,400 deaths in 2017

Province says illicit drug overdoses caused more than 1,400 deaths in 2017


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The province says that more than 1,400 British Columbians have died due to suspected illicit drug overdoses in 2017, an increase from 993 in 2016.

The preliminary data was released Wednesday by the BC Coroners Service.

Victoria is among the top three townships to experience the highest number of illicit drug overdose deaths in 2017, with 91. Surrey had 174 deaths and Vancouver had 358.

Fentanyl was detected in 81 per cent of the suspected illicit drug deaths in 2017, up from 67 per cent in 2016.

In most cases, the deadly drug was combined with cocaine, heroin or methamphetamines.

The majority of deaths continue to occur in private residences.

“As the coroners’ data show all too clearly, we are still in the midst of a persistent and continuing epidemic of unintentional poisoning deaths,” said provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall in a release.

“We are going to need to think more broadly, and further out of our comfort zone, to end these tragic losses.”

In November 2017, 103 suspected drug overdose deaths occurred, down from 140 in the same time last year, a total of 99 suspected drug overdose deaths occurred in December 2017, down from 164 in December 2016.

The 2017 totals will likely increase as additional analysis is completed.

The rate of illicit drug overdose deaths increased for the second consecutive year by approximately nine deaths per 100,000 to 30 deaths in 2017.

The province adds that no deaths occurred at any supervised consumption site or at any of the drug overdose prevention sites.

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

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