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Overdoses claimed 129 lives in B.C. last month

Fentanyl seized by the Kamloops RCMP in 2016 are pictured in this file photo.
June 30, 2017 - 11:13 AM

Last month illicit drug overdose deaths dropped slightly, but since May of 2016, deaths in B.C. have spiked by 158 per cent.

Numbers released by the B.C. Coroners Service today, June 30, show there were 129 deaths from overdoses in May. Fentanyl was detected in 72 per cent of overdose deaths over the first four months of this year.

A staggering number of the deaths, 82 per cent, were men. Most of the people who died from overdose last month, about three quarters, were people between the ages of 30 to 59.

The cities with the highest death counts are Vancouver, Victoria and Surrey. The Okanagan saw a greater than 50 per cent increase in illicit drug overdose death rates in May this year compared to 2016.

Throughout the Interior health region 100 people have died from an illicit drug overdose in the first five months of 2017. There have been 16 overdoses in Kamloops during the same time period, 36 in Kelowna and 12 in Vernon. No numbers are available for Penticton.

With these newest figures, 640 people have died from drug overdose in B.C. this year. Every month since November 2016, more than 110 people have died from overdose each month in the province, according to the report.

“The number of deaths shows that the risks remain extreme,” Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe says. “The drug supply is unsafe, and casual and occasional users are at high risk of overdose due to their opioid naiveté.”

Lapointe says anyone using illicit drugs should only do them where medical help is available or in the presence of a sober person equipped with and trained to administer naloxone.

Find past stories on the overdose crisis here.


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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
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