Fentanyl-related deaths drop by almost 50 per cent in Kamloops and Kelowna | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Fentanyl-related deaths drop by almost 50 per cent in Kamloops and Kelowna

Fentanyl-related deaths dropped across the province.
February 24, 2020 - 3:38 PM

Both Kamloops and Kelowna have seen nearly a 50 per cent decrease in the number of fentanyl-related deaths from 2018 to 2019, which mirrors a provincial decrease of almost 40 per cent.

According to information released today, Feb. 24, by B.C. Coroners Service, the number of fentanyl-related deaths has dropped from 1,335 in 2018 to 837 in 2019.

The majority of people dying from fentanyl-related overdoses continue to be male with 627 in 2019, compared to 190 females. Those within the 30 to 39 year age range are the group most likely to die from an overdose.

In 2013, Kamloops had one death from fentanyl. By 2018, that number jumped to 39 deaths, but 2019 saw nearly a 50 per cent decrease as 22 people lost their lives to fentanyl.

In Kelowna during 2017, there were 67 people who had fentanyl-detected overdose deaths. In 2018, 50 people died. In 2019, that number dropped to 27.

While fentanyl-related overdose death in Vernon dropped 35 per cent from 20 in 2018 to 13 in 2019, another Okanagan city saw an increase. Penticton’s fentanyl-related death count jumped from 16 in 2018 to 19 in 2019, although it has some of the lowest reported deaths of major cities in the Thompson-Okanagan with 51 deaths since 2013.

Kelowna has had 188 fentanyl-detected deaths since 2013. Kamloops has had 129 and Vernon reported 62 in the same time frame.

Throughout the Interior Health region, June saw the lowest number of deaths with three. The month with the highest number of deaths was March, when 20 people lost their lives to illegal drugs containing fentanyl. That figure is mirrored throughout the province, as March was the busiest month for deaths in 2019 with 99, and previously in 2018 with 136.

The majority of fentanyl-detected deaths that occurred in the Interior Health region was the Okanagan, which saw 68 deaths over the past year. Following that was the Thompson-Cariboo-Shuswap with 37, followed by the Kootenay Boundary region with 10 deaths. The fourth region under Interior Health jurisdiction is East Kootenay, which saw no deaths at all.

Overall, fentanyl or its analogues made up for 84 per cent of the illicit drug deaths in 2019, around the average for the last three reported years.

The number of illicit drug toxicity deaths, including non-fentanyl related deaths, was about 2.7 deaths per day throughout the province in 2019. Despite the daily average, there has been a 36 per cent decrease from 1,543 deaths in 2018, to 981 in 2019.

Most of the drug deaths happened indoors, with 57 per cent at a private residence and 27 per cent in other residences like hotels, social housing and shelters.

None of the illicit drug deaths reported in the province took place at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler 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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