(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

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

Oak Bay sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

Glenn Wakefield’s rescue involved five airplanes and took more than 48 hours

UPDATED: Man dies from injuries at Custom House construction site in Victoria

Government Street remains closed as investigation continues

Netflix, Warner Bros filming 10-part series in Colwood

Filming takes place now until March 2021

Saanich explores options for adding shelters to parks

Covered areas would encourage safe outdoor socializing during rainy season

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

POLL: Do you plan on allowing your children to go trick or treating this year?

This popular annual social time will look quite different this year due to COVID-19

Majority needed to pass COVID-19 budget, B.C. premier says

John Horgan pushes urgent care centres in first campaign stop

Most Read