Published: Fri, May 11, 2018
Medical | By Marta Holmes

March overdose deaths reached near-record level in BC

March overdose deaths reached near-record level in BC

So far this year, there have been 391 deaths across B.C., with about a quarter (102) happening in the the City of Vancouver.

Numbers released by the BC Coroners Service Thursday linked 161 fatalities to illicit drug overdoses-a 24 per cent increase over March 2017 and a 58 per cent increase over February of this year.

More than 160 British Columbians died of suspected drug overdoses in March, making it the second-deadliest month on record in the province's deepening opioid crisis.

In April, the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services recorded the highest number of overdose calls in 17 months.

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The coroner says over 1,400 inhabitants died from suspected illegal drug overdoses this past year.

Preliminary data indicates that through the first three months of 2018 fentanyl was detected in post-mortem testing in 83 per cent of the deaths.

Despite the efforts, however, overdose deaths in 2018 are on par with record numbers seen past year, when 400 people died between January and the end of March.

The majority of deaths continue to be young- to middle-aged males who die in their homes or another residence, such as a hotel, motel, rooming house or shelter.

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There have been 73 deaths on Vancouver Island to a suspected overdose through March, a rate of 36.8 people per 100,000, just one-tenth of a per cent behind the Vancouver Coastal rate.

Even the B.C. government declared a public health crisis over the crisis a couple of decades ago, however, the death toll has not abated.

Eleven of the 13 people who died last month in the North had fentanyl detected, while all of the fatal overdoses in January and February involved fentanyl.

The BC Coroners Service is urgently reminding those using any illicit drugs not to use alone and carry a nalaxone kit.

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