B.C. sets annual record for overdose deaths – and there’s still four months to go

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The B.C. Coroners Service said Tuesday that drug deaths total more than 100 in each of the past six months, and total deaths so far this year surpass all of those in 2019.

There have been 1,068 illicit drug deaths in B.C. this year, with 147 in the month of August.

B.C. Emergency Health Services reports close to 7,500 overdose calls throughout the summer, making it the highest number of overdose calls ever recorded in a three-month stretch.

The August number represents a 71 per cent increase over the number of deaths for August of 2019, which totalled 86. August deaths this year show a 16 per cent decrease compared to July of this year, which totalled 176.

The coroners service has noted that the number of deaths in males remains high, but the number of deaths for females has declined in August.

The rates for those aged 19 to 59 have increased in recent months and remain high and the Northern Health Authority has seen illicit drug toxicity death rates increase in recent months and remain relatively high.

From April to August 2020, approximately 14 per cent of illicit drug deaths showed signs of extreme fentanyl concentrations compared with eight per cent from January 2019 to March 2020.

Illicit fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamines continue to be the top drugs involved in drug deaths.


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