Although the 2019 pace of suspected overdose deaths in B.C. is down from the same time last year, there was a significant spike in March compared to the month before.
The BC Coroners Service released updated data on overdose deaths through the first quarter of the year that show 104 suspected deaths from illicit drugs in March, up from the more than two-year low of 73 in February.
The report says fentanyl was detected in 82 of the 104 deaths in March, or 78 per cent.
According to coroner service data, there have been 268 suspected overdose deaths in the province this year, including 35 on Vancouver Island.
Through the first quarter of 2019, the monthly average of 89 drug overdose deaths is a drop of 32 per cent compared to 132 deaths-per-month at the same time in 2018.
Last year, B.C. had a record number of suspected overdose deaths with 1,514, breaking the previous mark set in 2017 of 1,491.
Among other key findings in the report, the BC Coroners Service says more than two-thirds of illicit-drug deaths in the first quarter involve people aged 30 to 59 and males accounted for four in every five deaths.
Eighty-seven per cent of illicit drug overdose deaths happened inside, including more than half in private homes.
The report says there were no deaths at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites.