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Northern Health records 12 drug toxicity deaths in August

Approximately 5.5 people per day on average lost their lives to an illicit drug overdose in August.

That’s according to the BC Coroners Service.

One-hundred and sixty-nine suspected illicit drug deaths occurred in August, representing a 12% decrease from the number of fatalities recorded in July (193).

In Northern Health, 12 people passed away from the toxic drug crisis.

Through the first eight months of 2022, our health authority has seen 107 fatalities, 46 of them recorded in Prince George.

Through the first eight months of this year, the Nechako region, which includes Vanderhoof has tallied six overdose deaths.

Northern Health continues to have the highest drug toxicity death rate among all the health authorities at 52.4 per 100,000 people – roughly four points higher than Vancouver Coastal, which has a rate of 48.1.

Since January of 2021, our health authority documented 260 substance-related deaths which are exactly 13 per month – this continues to outpace the Greater Victoria area, which only saw 247 fatalities over the same time period.

In terms of Health Service Delivery Area, the Northwest region has the second-highest drug toxicity death rate of 63.5 – only Vancouver (72.0) is ranked higher.

As a whole, the Northwest region has tallied 33 toxic drug fatalities, ten more than the city of Richmond (23).

In terms of the Local Health Areas, Terrace has the most illicit drug deaths with 15 followed by Prince Rupert (6), Kitimat and Smithers (4), Upper Skeena (2), Burns Lake (1), and Haida Gwaii (1).

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

1,468 people passed away province-wide in 2022. BC posted a record 2,267 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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