The number of illicit drug deaths in B.C. so far in 2016 has exceeded the number of deaths for the whole year of 2015.
According to statistics from the B.C. Coroners Service, the province had 555 overdoses for the first nine months of 2016.
The number of deaths for all of 2015 was 508.
The report says Fentanyl remains a major contributor to the high number of deaths.
“From Jan. 1 through Aug. 31, 2016, there were a total of 302 cases in which fentanyl was detected, about 61 per cent of all illicit drug deaths,” reads part of the report.
That’s 61 per cent compared to 30 per cent in 2015.
The Coroners Service says it is very important for people using illicit drugs to take harm-reduction measures.
“These include never using alone, having Naloxone present and readily available when using, and knowing the signs of an overdose and calling 911 immediately.”
Deputy Chief Coroner Vince Stancato says he can only hope that efforts like the task-force will work …
“I’d like to think those efforts are going to make a difference, so I’m hopeful those numbers will reduce as we move forward.”
The top three townships where fatal overdoses occurred in 2007-2016 were Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria.
According to the report Vancouver Island Health Authority had the highest rate of illicit drug overdose deaths in 2016 – seeing an increase in rate from 2015 of 137 per cent.
Report says males accounted for 80 per cent of the apparent drug overdose deaths between January and September 2016.
It also says individuals aged between 19-29 and 30-39 accounted for the largest percentage of illicit drug overdose deaths during that time.
In a statement, the B.C. government says it continues to take actions on many fronts to prevent and respond to overdoses in B.C.
This includes continued work by a task force struck last month by Christy Clark to investigate the pandemic, and expand the take-home naloxone kit program.