(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

UPDATE: Body of Slocan River drowning victim recovered

The man was swimming near Winlaw on Wednesday.

Nelson’s SMRT1 Technologies to provide vending tech to Vancouver company

UpMeals will launch 22 machines across Canada using SMRT1’s personalized machines

July Kootenay real estate sales at record high

Sales and prices of Kootenay real estate on the rise

Kaslo council says it was overlooked in long-term care announcement

“We’re fed up … They have ignored every attempt we’ve made to contact them”

Kaslo 2.0: Effort to take the village’s local government online advances

The first step if approved would be setting up a Kaslo Health Hub

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

Most Read