Spike in illicit drug overdose deaths in BC

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Suspected overdose deaths spiked again in March, reaching the province's second highest monthly total to date, according to the B.C. Coroners Service.

The new report also shows that Vancouver Island Health Authority is tied with Vancouver's health authority for the highest rate of illicit drug overdose deaths, with 37 deaths per 100,000 people.

This represents a 24% increase over the March 2017 total of 130 illicit drug overdose deaths, and a 58% increase over last month's suspected total of 102.

That's nearly as high as the 162 people who died in December 2016, the highest monthly total since the coroners service began collecting statistics.

Preliminary data indicates that 161 B.C. residents died of a drug overdose in March, a jump of 59 compared to February.

Fentanyl has been detected in 83 per cent of post-mortem testing in the 391 deaths this year. Seventy per cent of those who died were between 19 and 49 years old.


More than quarter of those fatalities occurred in the City of Vancouver alone.

Last month, a death review panel looking into the overdose crisis called for even more services to check for toxic drugs as well as the expansion of treatment programs.

28 of those deaths happened on Vancouver Island.

In 2017, there were 39 overdose deaths recorded in Kamloops.

The vast majority of people - more than 90 per cent - have overdosed indoors.

2018 is well on pace to break the record 103 overdose deaths in the area past year, which had a rate of 26.6 deaths per 100,000.

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