More than 1,100 British Columbians have died of suspected illicit drug overdoses this year

MORE than 1,100 British Columbians have died due to suspected illicit drug overdoses, according to data released on Thursday by the BC Coroners Service.

Preliminary data indicate there were 80 suspected drug overdose deaths this September, representing a 31% increase from September 2016. The suspected number of illicit drug overdose deaths for the year to date is now 1,103, up from 607 at this time in 2016.

Approximately 83% (914) of the suspected illicit drug deaths to date in 2017 had fentanyl detected, representing an increase of 147% over the same period in 2016. In most cases, fentanyl was combined with other illicit drugs, most often cocaine, heroin or methamphetamines. Carfentanil has been detected in 37 suspected illicit drug overdose deaths between June and September of 2017.

Quick Facts

  • Current key trends in 2017 suspected illicit drug-overdose death cases:
    • More suspected illicit drug overdose deaths occurred during the five days following income assistance payments than in all other days of the month so far in 2017, with an average of six deaths per day;
    • Vancouver Coastal Health Authority has the highest rate of illicit drug overdose deaths at 37.8 deaths per 100,000 individuals among all health authorities and also experienced the largest increase in rate from 2016 at a 59% increase;
    • Almost three out of every four deaths involved persons between the ages of 30 and 59;
    • Four out of five who died were male;
    • Nine out of every 10 deaths occurred indoors, including more than half in private residences; and,
    • No deaths occurred at any supervised consumption site or at any of the drug overdose prevention sites.

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