(Black Press Media files)

B.C. records highest ever number of fatal overdoses in May with 170 deaths

That’s 11 people dying from illicit drugs every two days

A concerning 170 people died from fatal overdoses in B.C. in May, marking the highest number of deaths in a single month since the crisis was declared in 2016.

That’s roughly 11 people every two days, according to BC Coroners Service data released Thursday (June 11).

The spike in fatalities is part of a notable trend in the province as social distancing restrictions due to COVID-19 has pushed drug users indoors.

In March, 113 people died from illicit drugs, followed by a further 118 people in April.

“More British Columbians died of overdose in one month than died in the whole first wave of COVID-19,” said Guy Felicella, a peer clinical supervisor with the BC Centre for Substance Use.

“All British Columbians should collectively share our grief and urge action to improve access to safer supply so people can get the help they need.”

A total of 554 people have fatally overdosed since the beginning of the year, with 128 lives lost in Vancouver, 72 in Surrey and 49 in Victoria.

Eighty-five per cent of all deaths have occurred indoors.

Most concerning, according to Postmortem toxicology results, is that nearly 20 per cent of the deaths in April and May involved extreme fentanyl concentrations. That’s compared to just nine per cent in January 2019 to March 2020.

“The drug supply is unpredictable and highly toxic, and has led to a sustained increase in fatal and non-fatal overdoses from smoking and injection in recent months,” said Dr. Jane Buxton, harm reduction lead for the BC Centre for Disease Control.

“COVID-19 has added challenges and people may be feeling more isolated and anxious, but it’s important to continue to buddy up, or access local overdose prevention and supervised consumption services during this time.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

overdose

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Haitian foster children arrive in Nelson after months-long lobbying effort

Marie-Paule Brisson and Sebastien De Marre have parented girls age 12 and 8 since they were babies

Trail RCMP, coroner, investigating fisherman’s sudden death

The Maple Ridge man, in his 50s, died while fishing on a bridge near Trail

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

Large police presence in Castlegar on July 9 involved man peeing on street

Three police officers responded to the incident near the Black Rooster Pub at around 1:30 p.m.

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

BREAKING: Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

Most Read