At least 1,095 people in B.C. died of toxic drug overdoses between January and June of this year — the highest number ever recorded in the first six months of a calendar year.
The latest data from the BC Coroners Service show that B.C. has surpassed 10,000 deaths since the province’s toxic drug supply was declared a public health emergency in April 2016.
NEW: 10,000 people have died of overdose since BC declared a toxic drug crisis a public heath emergency in April 2016.
New data from BC Coroners Service shows 1,095 people died from Jan-June this year — highest ever recorded in the first 6 months of the calendar year.
— Cole Schisler (@SchislerCole) August 16, 2022
Of those who have died, 78 per cent were men and 73 per cent were between the ages of 30 and 59. On average, more than six lives have been lost to illicit drugs every day this year.
In the Okanagan for the month of June there were 12 illicit drug toxicity deaths recorded. So far in Interior Health for 2022, there have been 178 illicit drug toxicity deaths compared to 375 by the same time last year.
Vernon saw 23 deaths from January to June this year, the 11th highest in the province. Kelowna saw 38, the sixth highest in B.C. below the highest number in Vancouver of 258.
“The ever-increasing toxicity of the unregulated, illicit drug market is taking a heart-breaking toll on the lives and well-being of members of our communities across the province,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner. “Deaths due to toxic drugs in the first half of 2022 have surpassed the number of deaths experienced in the same period in 2021, putting our province, once again, on track for a record loss of life.”
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Sheila Malcolmson released a statement expressing grief at the lives lost to toxic drugs.
She noted the government’s efforts to expand access to treatment and recovery across B.C. including additional substance use beds in the Okanagan, Nanaimo, Maple Ridge and Prince George.
“The coroner’s report shows how important our work is to reduce the risk of drug poisonings and to save lives. Clearly more is needed because increasing illicit drug toxicity has outstripped B.C.’s unprecedented addition of new overdose prevention services.”