More than half of B.C.'s overdose deaths this year blamed on fentanyl | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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More than half of B.C.'s overdose deaths this year blamed on fentanyl

October 20, 2016 - 11:47 AM

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - The number of drug related deaths in B.C. for the first nine months of 2016 has already exceeded last year's total number.

The B.C. Coroners Service says in a release that from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30 of this year, there were 555 drug overdose deaths, compared to 508 deaths by the end of 2015.

In September, 56 people died from drug overdoses in the province, compared to 49 deaths in August. The coroners service says the numbers could still change after some investigations are completed.

"Fentanyl remains a major contributor to the high number of deaths," the release says.

From Jan. 1 to Aug. 31, 2016, there were a total of 302 cases in which fentanyl was detected, accounting for about 61 per cent of overdose deaths, which is more than triple the number of fentanyl-detected deaths for the same period last year.

The B.C. Coroners Service is reminding drug users harm reduction measures need to be taken, including never using alone, having naloxone on hand and knowing the signs of an overdose.

Breakdown of regional fentanyl-related death statistics

  • 47 fentanyl-related deaths in the Interior Health Authority jurisdiction this year.
  • 18 fentanyl-related deaths in Kelowna so far this year, compared to six last year.
  • 12 fentanyl-related deaths in Kamloops so far this year, compared to three last year
  • 24 fentanyl-related deaths in the Okanagan this year, compared to 15 last year.
  • 20 fentanyl-related deaths in the Thompson Cariboo this year, compared to four last year.
  • The Coroners Service says nearly 80 per cent of the people who died from fentanyl overdoses were men and 60 per cent were between the ages of 19 and 39.

Find past stories on fentanyl here.

– This story was updated at 12:31 p.m. Thursday, October 20, 2016 to include regional statistics from the B.C. Coroners Service.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ashley Legassic or call 250-319-7494 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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