Vancouver/Fraser Valley – The number of illicit drug deaths in British Columbia surpassed last year’s death toll after just nine months.
The Ministry of Public Safety says in the first nine months of this year there were 555 deaths because of illicit drug overdoses, compared with 508 for all of 2015.
The ministry says fentanyl remains the major contributor to the high number of deaths and in more than 60 per cent of them, the drug was detected.
The coroner’s service is urging users to take harm reduction measures, including never using alone and having naloxone ready to counteract an overdose if necessary.
The B.C. government declared a public health emergency earlier this year, describing the number of deaths as alarming.
The province formed a joint task force involving the provincial health officer and the director of police services to prevent and respond to overdoses.
Here is the Provincial media release:
The number of illicit drug deaths in British Columbia through the first nine months of 2016 has exceeded the number for the whole year of 2015, according to the latest statistics from the BC Coroners Service.
For the first nine months of 2016 (Jan. 1 through Sept. 30), provisional data indicates that the total number of deaths from illicit drug overdoses was 555, compared to 508 for the 12 months of 2015.
The total number of illicit drug deaths in September was 56, up from 49 in August. (The numbers for the previous month may change slightly as the result of further investigation into some deaths.)
Fentanyl remains a major contributor to the high number of deaths. From Jan. 1 through Aug. 31, 2016, there were a total of 302 cases in which fentanyl was detected, about 61% of all illicit drug deaths. That number is more than triple the number of fentanyl-detected deaths for the same period last year.
The BC Coroners Service continues to stress the importance of harm-reduction measures that need to be taken by anyone using illicit drugs. These include never using alone, having naloxone present and readily available when using, and knowing the signs of an overdose and calling 911 immediately.
The BC Coroners Service continues to work with health, community and law enforcement agencies and with the provincial government’s Joint Task Force on Overdose Response in an effort to reduce this death toll.
The updated report on illicit drug deaths can be found at:
The updated report on the number of deaths involving fentanyl can be found at: