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179 people died from B.C.’s poisoned drug supply in October

October’s numbers bring 2022’s total to 1,827 lives lost
Moms Stop the Harm advocates and supporters march to the Ministry of Health building where pictures of loved ones hang on display during the sixth anniversary to mark the public health emergency on opioid-related overdose across the province in Victoria, April 14, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

At least another 179 lives were lost to B.C.’s toxic drug supply in October, according to preliminary toxicology findings from the BC Coroners Service.

It marks a 14 per cent drop from the number of deaths in October 2021, but a four per cent increase over the month prior, when 172 people fatally overdosed.

In total in 2022 so far, 1,827 people have died from toxic drugs. That’s just nine deaths fewer than during the same period last year.

Three of those who died in October were under the age of 19. The majority of other deaths (150) were fairly evenly distributed between those aged 19 to 59. Another 22 people who died were in their 60s and three were in their 70s. The age of the final person is unknown.

By health authority, most October fatal overdoses occurred in Fraser Health (55) and Vancouver Coastal Health (53). A further 28 people died in each of Island Health and Interior Health, and 15 people passed in Northern Health.

The highest death rate continued to be in Vancouver at 74.4 people per 100,000. The next worst were in the Northwest at 67.7 per 100,000, the Northern Interior at 60.4 per 100,000, and Thompson Cariboo at 59.5 per 100,000. The lowest death rates were in Richmond at 13 deaths per 100,000, the North Shore/Coast Garibaldi at 13.2 deaths per 100,000, and the East Kootenays at 16.5 deaths per 100,000.

On average across all of B.C., 41.7 people per 100,000 died from the toxic drug supply in October. That equals out to about 5.8 deaths per day.

Throughout all of 2022, the highest death rates have been in Lillooet, Cowichan Valley West, Terrace, Alberni/Clayoquot, and Merritt.

Private residence continue to be the spot where the vast majority of fatal overdoses occur. In 2022, 83 per cent of people died there, while 28 per cent died inside other residences – such as shelters, hotels and supportive housing – and 16 per cent died outside in vehicles, parks, streets or sidewalks. The only real exception to this is in Vancouver Coastal Health, where more people die in other residences than in private ones.

The BC Coroners Service says no deaths have been reported at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites to date, and that there is no indication that prescribed safe supply is contributing to deaths.

READ ALSO: Thousands in B.C. will continue to die until there is a safe drug supply, say advocates


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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media.
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