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Northwest Health Service Delivery Area has second-highest illicit drug death rate in BC

Thirteen people in Northern Health lost their lives to a suspected drug overdose in July, with eight of those taking place in the northwest corner of the province.

That’s according to data released today (Thursday) by the BC Coroners Service.

So far this year, our health authority has seen 95 fatalities with the northwest responsible for 30 of those.

Province-wide, 192 illicit drug deaths were recorded in July, representing a 31% spike from the number of fatalities that took place in June (147).

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Over six people per day in BC lost their lives to an illicit drug overdose in July.

Northern Health has the highest drug toxicity death rate among all the health authorities at 53.2 per 100,000 people – nearly five points higher than Vancouver Coastal, which has a rate of 48.9.

Since January of 2021, our health authority documented 248 substance-related deaths equating to over 13 per month – outpacing the Greater Victoria area, which only saw 234 fatalities over the same time period.

In terms of the Health Service Delivery Area, the Northwest region has the second-highest drug toxicity death rate of 66.0– only Vancouver (72.7) ranked higher.

Between January and April of 2022, Terrace has seen eight illicit drug deaths followed by Smithers (4), Prince Rupert (2), and Upper Skeena (1).

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Burns Lake did not record an overdose death during this time period.

The Coroners Service noted that 71% of those dying so far in 2022 are between the ages of 30 and 59.

1,297 people have passed away province-wide. BC posted a record 2,269 drug overdose deaths in 2021.

No fatalities were reported at supervised consumption or drug prevention sites.

The Coroners Service also noted there is no indication that the prescribed safe supply is contributing to any illicit drug deaths.

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