An organizer displays a naloxone kit at Centennial Square in Victoria, B.C., on Saturday August 31, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Illicit drug deaths down, but B.C. coroner says thousands still overdose

Chief coroner Life Lapointe says province’s drug supply remains unpredictable

The number of illicit drug overdose deaths has dropped in B.C., but the coroners’ service says users need to remain cautious about an unpredictable and toxic drug supply.

The BC Coroners Service says there were 69 suspected overdoses deaths in October, a 42-per-cent decrease from those killed by illicit drugs in the same month last year.

Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe says while fatalities have decreased, the service knows from their health-care partners that the number of non-fatal overdoses remains high.

She says the decrease in overdose deaths is a promising trend, but the drug supply in the province remains unpredictable and the long-term impact of drug toxicity can be severe.

The coroners’ service says the crisis is far from over, pointing out that B.C. paramedics responded to more than 20,000 overdose calls between January and October this year.

The service says when paramedics respond to a potential overdose patient, that person has a 99-per-cent chance of survival.

READ MORE: Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem, report says

“This is why all partners in public health continue to stress the importance of not using alone and to call 911 if you see someone who may be experiencing adverse effects of a drug event,” Lapointe says in a statement. “We must continue to remain vigilant.”

The B.C. government declared a public health emergency in April 2016 when the number of overdose deaths jumped as the illicit opioid fentanyl began showing up in street drugs.

Statistics from the coroners’ service say fentanyl or its analogues were detected in about 85 per cent of the illicit drug deaths so far this year and it was a factor in 87 per cent of the overdose deaths last year.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

West Kootenay SAR crews rescue injured mountain biker near Rossland

Crews were called in to help after the biker seriously injured himself at around noon Saturday

Nelson teachers union president worried about members ahead of return to classes

Carla Wilson says there are a lot of questions remaining

Pop-up drive-in theatre shows Only in Nelson

The event was a collaboration between the Civic Theatre and Kootenay Co-op Radio

Suspected fentanyl and cocaine seized during RCMP search in Castlegar

Two men were taken into police custody during the search warrant

Morning start: This is the fastest growing city in the Kootenays

Here is your Kootenays’ morning start for Monday, May 25

Help the Nelson Star continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Black Press is now accepting donations to keep its papers operating

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Snowbirds jets will not be leaving Kamloops, just yet

The Snowbirds have been in Kamloops since May 17 when a plane crashed killing Capt. Jennifer Casey

COVID-19 checkpoints ‘up to them,’ Bonnie Henry says of remote B.C. villages

Support local tourism economy, but only if you’re invited in

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Eight people arrested in Victoria homeless camp after enforcement order issued

Those living in tents were given until May 20 to move indoors

Most Read