Drug injection supplies are pictured inside the newly opened Fraser Health supervised consumption site in Surrey, B.C. Tuesday, June 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Drug injection supplies are pictured inside the newly opened Fraser Health supervised consumption site in Surrey, B.C. Tuesday, June 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

B.C. marks 14th month of 100+ deaths as 176 people fatally overdose in April

At least 176 people fatally overdosed, or roughly 11 deaths every two days

Once again, a record-number of British Columbians died from illicit drug poisonings in April, according to preliminary data from the B.C. Coroners Service.

At least 176 people fatally overdosed, or roughly 11 deaths every two days. This brings the total number of deaths from January to April to 680.

“I offer my heartfelt condolences to every family in the province that is experiencing the unimaginable pain of sudden and unexpected loss,” chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said in a statement Tuesday (June 1).

The 176 lives lost are a record for the month of April and roughly 43 per cent higher than in April 2020.

The Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health authorities, which include the largest populations of people in B.C., have accounted for 61 per cent of suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths this year.

However, the coroners service noted that the health service delivery areas with the highest rates of death are Vancouver, Northeast, Thompson Cariboo, Northwest and North Vancouver Island – evidence that this crisis has impacted nearly every corner of the province.

The pandemic, while forcing many inside to use alone, has also led to an increased toxicity among street drugs.

Fentanyl has been detected in 86 per cent of deaths this year, while carfentanil, a more potent analogue of fentanyl, has been found in 62 samples – almost as many as were detected in all of 2020 (65).

Meanwhile, benzodiazapenes were detected in 57 per cent of samples in April. That’s almost four times the amount reported in July 2020, at 15 per cent.

“We know that substance use disorder is a complex health issue, and those experiencing it need meaningful and compassionate services and supports,” Lapointe said.

“Far too often, we hear from families who have lost a loved one that no help was available despite desperate searches over months or years. It is critical that harm reduction services, including safe supply, are accessible where and when people need them, and that recovery services are evidence based and accountable.”

More to come.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

opioid crisis

Just Posted

The Binche Fishing Derby at Stuart Lake is fast approaching. (Binche Fishing Derby Facebook photo)
Binche shares excitement for upcoming fishing derby

“It’s more than just fishing,” says Dave Birdi

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Local youth vaccination clinics underway

Pfizer vaccine will be used

Priya Sharma. (Submitted)
Column: Why ultimatums don’t work

By Priya Sharma It is a common misconception that people can choose… Continue reading

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read