Vancouver Island sees increase in suspected drug overdose deaths in June compared to May

Vancouver Island sees increase in suspected drug overdose deaths in June compared to May

File photo.

File photo.

Although the province saw an overall decline in suspected drug overdose deaths in June compared to May of this year, new figures show those numbers climbed on Vancouver Island.

In statistics released by the B.C. Coroners Service (BCCS) Thursday, the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) is the only region to see an increase in June compared to the month before.

The report says there were 18 suspected deaths from illicit drugs in June in the jurisdiction, compared to 12 in May.

But it is down compared to the same month last year when there were 24 deaths reported.

The BCCS says 105 deaths occurred from suspected drug overdoses in the province, down eight per cent from May and a drop of 15 per cent compared to June 2017.

The study says 119 people have died from suspected overdoses in the VIHA, slightly over the pace of 2017 that saw 234 deaths over the year.

The province is also ahead of last year’s rate, with 742 suspected overdose deaths in 2018.

There was a total of 1,451 in 2017.


The BCCS report through six months of 2018 shows Nanaimo is on pace to be well below 2017 overdose death numbers, and the province has approved more funding to combat the issue in the city.

Nanaimo Community Action Team (CAT) has been approved to receive $100,000 to enhance its response to the overdose crisis.

The funds were given the go-ahead from the Provincial Overdose Emergency Response Centre and will be divided between three community initiatives:

  • Community Facilitator; to provide communications, partnership develop and coordinate outreach planning efforts
  • Peer partnership and outreach; capacity-building focus to strengthen existing peer outreach, build partnerships and close gaps in service
  • Community seed grants; small grants to support innovative, locally developed solutions to respond to the challenging issues of the overdose crisis.

There have been 16 suspected overdose deaths in Nanaimo in 2018, on pace to be below last year’s final number of 52.

North Vancouver Island is also on pace to fall below 2017 overdose death numbers, with 15 through June.

There were 37 deaths from illicit drugs in 2017 in the region.


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