BC recorded its deadliest February on record for illicit drug deaths.
According to data released by the Coroners Service this morning (Tuesday), 174 people passed away from a suspected overdose.
That equates to just over six deaths per day on average.
“As we approach the sixth anniversary of the declaration of the public-health emergency into substance-related harms, we are continuing to lose members of our communities at an unprecedented and terrifying rate,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner.
“The deaths of another 174 B.C. residents, so many of them young and middle-aged men with years of life ahead of them, is yet another reminder that urgent action is needed on a province-wide scale. I extend my deepest sympathy to the many families, friends, and communities who are grieving the loss of a loved one.”
Northern Health saw 13 illicit drug deaths during February .
So far this year, our health authority has seen 32 fatalities.
Furthermore, Northern Health has the highest drug toxicity death rate among all the health authorities at 62.7 per 100,000 people.
Since January of 2021, NH documented 179 substance-related deaths equating to nearly 13 per month – outpacing the city of Victoria, which has only seen 149 fatalities over the same time period.
“I recognize that the concept of safer supply is difficult for some to understand given the many decades of a punitive, enforcement-based approach to substance use,” Lapointe said.
“However, unless we act quickly to provide a safe, regulated source of the drugs people are using in every community across our province, people we love will continue to be vulnerable to the profit-driven, chaotic illicit drug market. Safer supply, along with decriminalizing possession of drugs for personal use, reducing stigma, and building an evidence-based system of treatment and recovery are critical components for reducing the terrible harms and fatal consequences of the toxic illicit drug market.”
In terms of Health Service Delivery Area, the Northern Interior, which includes PG-Quesnel-Burns Lake and the Robson Valley has the third-highest drug toxicity death rate of 73.6– only Vancouver (78.0) and Thompson Cariboo (76.2) ranked higher.
The Coroners Service noted that 74% of those dying so far in 2022 are between the ages of 30 and 59.
So far this year, 382 people have passed away province-wide. BC posted a record 2,232 drug overdose deaths in 2021.
More than 9,400 British Columbians have died from toxic illicit drugs since 2016.
No fatalities were reported at supervised consumption or drug prevention sites.