Already more overdose deaths in Interior Health region than all of last year: Coroner | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Already more overdose deaths in Interior Health region than all of last year: Coroner

July 13, 2016 - 4:30 PM

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - Overdose deaths are continuing to spike across the province and fentanyl continues to be the main culprit.

In the first half of 2016, 371 people lose their lives to overdoses in B.C., an increase of nearly 75 per cent over the first half of 2015, according to a release by the B.C. Coroners service. The province recorded another 56 overdose deaths in June. In the Interior Health Authority region, 64 deaths have been recorded in 2016, surpassing last year's total of 62 with six months to go.

In Kamloops, the number of overdose deaths has reached 22 in the first half of 2016, the fourth highest of any township in B.C. Last year, Kamloops saw a total of seven overdose deaths.

Kelowna was the fifth highest with 19, which is almost equal to the 20 overdose deaths in the city in 2015.

West Kelowna and Vernon recorded three overdose deaths each, while Salmon Arm and Merritt recorded two each. Penticton and Chase each recorded one.

The people dying are predominantly men between the ages of 20 and 49.

Of overdose deaths recorded between January and May 2016, 60 per cent showed traces of fentanyl. In 2015 only 31 per cent of deaths over the same period were connected to fentanyl. June statistics for fentanyl related deaths have not been released yet.

The statistics also show that fentanyl is a province-wide issue, as deaths across B.C. were linked to the extremely potent opiate.

In the Interior Health Authority, 31 deaths were linked to fentanyl as of May 31, 10 more than all of 2015. Kelowna alone was the location for 12 fentanyl related deaths, while Kamloops recorded eight, Vernon two, Salmon Arm two, Penticton one and West Kelowna one.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brendan Kergin or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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