Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy (B.C. government)

111 people died of drug overdose in B.C. in June

Total of 780 lives have been lost to overdoses so far this year, up from 414 at this time last year

More than halfway through 2017 and the opioid crisis isn’t letting up as fentanyl remains a serious concern.

There were 111 suspected drug overdose deaths in June, according to the BC Coroners Service.

That’s an average of about seven deaths every two days.

RELATED: First Nations people in B.C. three times more likely to die of overdose

A total of 780 lives have been lost to drug overdoses so far this year – more than double the number of deaths at this point last year.

Overdose deaths by city
Infogram

Despite June seeing the least number of fatal overdoses compared to prior months this year, trends suggest there will be 1,400 lives claimed by the end of 2017 in B.C.

“They do indicate we are plateauing at a new high although I think it’s premature to take any comfort from that,” provincial medical officer Dr. Perry Kendall said at a press conference Friday.

The new data shows that the battle against lethal fentanyl tainting other illicit drugs has also worsened, Kendall said.

Fentanyl was detected in nearly 80 per cent of drug-related deaths from January to May, up from 61 per cent last year.

ONE YEAR LATER: B.C.’s first public health emergency continues

And while no deaths have occurred at any of the six overdose consumption site and supervised consumption sites in the province, nine out of ten of those deaths have occurred indoors with more than half in private residences.

While some of these deaths happened while people were alone, Lapointe said, others are due to friends or family not knowing the symptoms of an overdose or not calling 911 in fear of criminal repercussions.

“Despite naloxone being in the home and freely available, nobody thought to use it because they didn’t know an overdose was occurring,” Lapointe said. “Use in the company of someone who knows what an overdose looks like and who is willing to to administer naloxone or willing to call 911.”

RELATED: 25 per cent of organs donated in B.C. came from fentanyl overdose deaths

In December, the federal government passed the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act which guarantees immunity from certain charges related to simple possession of illegal drugs if someone is overdosing and paramedics are called.

Health authorities are also looking at new data to understand how to better combat the indoor drug-related deaths.

Strategies could include making naloxone kits available by mail or a new phone app.

New mental health and addictions minister Judy Darcy said she’s spent the past two weeks getting a clear grip on the overdose situation, visiting the Downtown Eastside, Surrey’s 135A neighbourhood and meeting with health authorities.

“What these numbers tell us, is all kinds of families and all walks of life are affected by the overdose crisis,” she said.

Darcy pointed to the need for more treatment beds, peer support workers and suboxone treatment options– campaign promises from the NDP party.

“We must take urgent action to stem the tide,” she said. “We have a long way to go to have the kind of mental health and addictions services where you ask once and you get help fast.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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

800 meals donated for Cowichan frontline workers

They were at Cowichan District Hospital on May 25 handing out prepared meals to grateful workers

Cowichan CMHA officials respond to report, probation order

“there are important improvements needed to ensure greater fairness within our housing program.”

Cowichan RCMP remind public to leave dogs chilling at home on hot days

Dogsafe has designed a Dog in a Hot Car Responder Checklist

Editorial: Minimal risk in sending kids back to school

Time to poke our heads out of our comfortable nests and venture out into the world again.

Water in Lake Cowichan just fine, says acting mayor

Tim McGonigle said there is no truth to rumours of water advisories

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

Stolen gargoyle returns to its perch on central Vancouver Island yard

Petey, a concrete gargoyle statue, was returned by Nanaimo RCMP after being found by city crew

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

Most Read