1422 B.C. residents died of suspected illicit drug overdoses in 2017, up 43% from 2016
Over 1,400 (1422) B.C. residents died of suspected illicit drug overdoses in 2017. That tragic number was released by the Coroners Service today (Wed).
That's a 43% increase from 2016 when 993 people died from overdoses.
If there was a bright spot it's that there were significantly fewer deaths in the final 4 months of 2017 -- averaging 96.5 deaths per month between September and December compared with the first 8 months of the year when an average of 129.5 deaths occured.
Approximately 81% of the suspected illicit drug deaths to date in 2017 had fentanyl detected, up from 67% in 2016. As well more overdose deathsappear to occur in the 5 days after income assistance payments are issued, with an average of 6 deaths a day.
Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe says more than half of the fatal drug overdoses involved people aged 30 to 49, and 4 out of 5 were male.
Lapointe adds the health crisis affects people from all walks of life and government agencies must work to help reduce the stigma of drug addiction and increase awareness.
The three cities experiencing the highest number of illicit drug overdose deaths in 2017 are Vancouver (358), Surrey (174) and Victoria (91).