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.

Just Posted

“Huge disappointment” as BCVT learns Northern Sea Wolf will not sail this summer

The Nimpkish is arrriving near-empty as frustrated travelers can’t get to Bella Bella for transfer

Protection order issued after Bella Coola bear attack

Fruit trees to be removed after sow grizzly defended cubs and sent man to hospital

Bella Coola enjoys 33rd Annual Valley Ridge Riders Rodeo

Sunny skies on Monday added a welcome touch to an otherwise damp weekend

First Nation pipeline protesters erect ‘tiny homes’ in B.C. Park

Kanahus Manuel and Tiny House Warriors say more homes being constructed in park

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

VIDEO: Visual recap of Vancouver Island MusicFest

Walk Off The Earth, Passenger, Arlo Guthrie among highlights

Trudeau’s youth council divided over Trans Mountain pipeline purchase

A letter signed by 16 past and present members was made public today, asking the federal government to reverse course

Hulk Hogan reinstated into wrestling Hall of Fame

Hogan had used racial slurs caught on video when talking about his daughter sleeping with a black man

‘Lava bomb’ through roof of tour boat injures 22 in Hawaii

“An explosion occurred near the shoreline hurling hot lava rocks towards the boat and injuring several passengers”

B.C. teen meets Nicolas Cage

Filming mob movie in downtown Vernon, B.C.

Critics claim Trump “defended a tyrant”

Trump questions US intel, not Putin, on Russia 2016 meddling

B.C. MLAs choose new children’s watchdog

Jennifer Charlesworth has worked in government, social services

B.C. reporter calls out immigration photo on social media as fake news

A Vancouver reporter is calling out a British politician for spreading fake news

Hundreds of Arctic glaciers shrinking, disappearing

Out of 1,773 glaciers, 1,353 shrank significantly between 2000 and 2016

Most Read