Average of 4.3 people/day died of illicit drug overdose in B.C. in September
The latest BC Coroners Service report shows 128 people died from suspected illicit drug overdoses in September.
The latest data from the coroner suggests 2018 is on track to be another record-breaking year for illicit overdose deaths in the province.
In September, 128 people died from a suspected overdose in B.C. – an average of 4.3 deaths per day. The numbers released Wednesday represent an eight per cent increase from this August, and a startling 38 per cent increase from the same month last year.
The rates of illicit drug overdoses are highest in Vancouver, Thompson Cariboo, the Northern Interior, Okanagan and southern Vancouver Island.
So far this year, 297 people have died in the City of Vancouver. The local death toll is already greater than the total for all of 2016, and just 72 people fewer than in 2017.
The updated numbers were released the same day Vancouver's new city council was scheduled to vote on whether the mayor should request urgent funding from the province to fight the crisis.
An estimate presented before council based on police data suggests this year's death toll in the city may have surpassed 300 last week.
The number of overdose calls to first responders is nearing the total made in 2016 at about 4,600, and in some parts of the city, as many as one-in-10 of those calls ended in death.
The above map is from the opioid crisis update presented before city council this week.
If council approves the motion, Mayor Kennedy Stewart will ask the government to match the amount raised municipally through a 0.5 per cent tax increase it approved in 2016. The tax increase raised about $3.5 million.
The city hopes to use the money for safe spaces, data monitoring, treatment options and prevention services.
The report suggested fentanyl was involved in 77 per cent of the fatal overdoses over the last two years, cocaine in half, methamphetamine or amphetamine in one-third and heroin in just under one-quarter.
So far this year, seven-in-10 people who've died were between the ages of 30 and 50, and about 80 per cent were male. The majority of overdoses resulting in death occurred inside, and about two-thirds were in a private home.
The report said more fatal overdoses occurred during the days following income assistance payments than all other days in 2017-18.
The above graph is from the latest BC Coroners Service report.
With files from The Canadian Press
Correction notice: An earlier version of this article erroneously stated that Vancouver City Council had already voted in favour of requesting provincial funding. The Canadian Press issued a correction Wednesday afternoon that the vote had not yet occurred.