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572 British Columbians died of fatal overdoses in first 3 months of 2024

Rate of death among women, girls is climbing year over year: BC Coroners Service
Paramedics respond to a call as Vancouver city councillor Jean Swanson attends a march to remember those who died during the overdose crisis and to call for a safe supply of illicit drugs on International Overdose Awareness Day, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, August 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Six people died each day of fatal overdoses in the province in March, the BC Coroners Service says.

The latest data, released Tuesday (May 7), shows at least 192 people died from B.C.’s toxic drug supply in March. At least 572 people in the first three months of 2024.

BC Coroners Service says it’s an 11-per-cent decrease from the 215 deaths in March 2023 when nearly seven people were dying each day.

Vancouver, Surrey and Nanaimo continue to report the highest number of unregulated drug deaths in 2024.

Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health authorities have made up 51 per cent of all deaths in B.C., with 147 and 143, respectively.

About seven-in-10 of the fatal overdoses were people between the ages of 30 and 59.

Nearly three-quarters of the 572 deaths have been male, BC Coroners Service says “it is worth noting that the rate of death among females is climbing year over year.” This year, 23 deaths per 100,000 were women or girls, compared to 20.6 per 100,000 in 2024.\

In 2024, 84 per cent of the death have been inside, with 47 per cent in private home and 37 inside social and supportive housing, single-room occupancy buildings, shelters, hostels and other indoor locations. Fifteen per cent were reported to be outside in vehicle, sidewalks, streets or parks.

Fentanyl was detected in 85 per cent of the unregulated drug deaths that have undergone expedited toxicology testing.

Since B.C. declared the public health emergency in April 2016, at least 14,400 people in the province have died from toxic drugs.

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Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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