Vancouver Island overdose deaths decline in February, B.C. Coroners report

Vancouver Island overdose deaths decline in February, B.C. Coroners report

File photo.

File photo.

A report from the B.C. Coroners Service shows the number of suspected drug overdoses went down in February for both Vancouver Island and the province.

There were 16 deaths from illicit drugs on Vancouver Island in February, compared to 29 in January and 25 deaths in February 2017.

Provincially, there were 102 suspected overdoses in February, a 16 per cent drop from a year before and a 19 per cent decrease from January.

After a 10-year-high of 1,446 deaths from illicit drugs in 2017, there have been 228 reported in the province this year which on pace for 1,368 overdose deaths by the end of the year.

Island Health has reported 45 deaths through the end of February, with 20 recorded in Victoria.

But central and north Vancouver Island has among the highest rates of illicit drug deaths.

There have been 15 overdoses this year in the central Island region and five in the north, and both health service areas recorded a pace of more than 30 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017, among the highest in the province.

B.C. Death Panel report suggests recommendations to reduce overdose deaths

The report comes in conjunction with a death review panel study on all overdose deaths in the province over a 19-month period ending July 31, 2017.

The panel identified areas of focus to reduce overdose deaths, which includes access to safer drug use, including expanding opioid agonist therapy, services for drug checking and take home naloxone kits and evidence-based treatment and recovery systems.

“The clearest finding that has come through this review is the reaffirmation that the biggest problem we face in terms of overdose deaths is the recent increase in drug toxicity,” Panel Chair Michael Egilson said.

The coroners’ service says fentanyl is responsible for a majority of deaths, with four of five overdose cases finding evidence of the powerful opioid in July 2017, the end of the review period.

During the 19-month period, there was a total of 1,854 lives claimed from an overdose.

The panel included 21 experts in health care, policing, corrections, First Nations, education and mental health and addictions.

Andy NealAndy Neal

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!