VANCOUVER - Hundreds of people died of suspected drug overdose in the first eight months of the year, data from the BC Coroners Service suggests.

The numbers released Wednesday show nearly 700 people died of overdose in B.C. between January and the end of August. Fentanyl was detected in more than 85 per cent of those deaths, the data showed.

The most recent data available was from August, a month where, on average, 2.5 people died each day of overdose.

With a total of 79 deaths, that's a 37 per cent decrease from the same month last year, but it's up 13 per cent from July.

In the first eight months of the year, 690 people died due to drug toxicity. The total is a decrease from the first eight months of 2018, when 1,037 people had died by Sept. 30.

If you witness an overdose, call 911 immediately. Carrying a naloxone kit is recommended, and users are advised to have drugs checked if possible.

"Never use alone," the BC Coroners Service said. "Use at a supervised consumption site or overdose prevention site if you can."

Who are the deceased?

The coroners service also released information on the ages, genders and locations of the deceased.

So far in 2019, the majority have been between the ages of 30 and 59. The service said 71 per cent fell within that category

And almost nine-in-10 were aged 19 to 59, the data showed.

Twelve people were between 10 and 18, and 65 were over the age of 60.

Most (77 per cent) were male.

Where did the deaths occur?

None died at supervised consumption sites or drug overdose prevention sites.

The latest numbers suggest 55.5 per cent of deaths occurred inside a private residence, and another 26 per cent inside another residence. Eleven per cent of deaths were outside.

When looking at geography, the rates of illicit drug deaths have been highest so far this year in the following health authorities: Princeton, Grand Forks, Hope, Metro Vancouver and Keremeos.

B.C. overdoses

Quick look: By the numbers

  • 2.5: Average number of deaths per day due to overdose in B.C. in August
  • 12: Number of deceased, aged 10 to 18
  • 79: Number of suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths in August
  • 690: Number of deaths from suspected illicit drug overdose between January and August
  • 1,037: Number of deaths from overdose between January and August 2018
  • 77: Percentage of deceased that are male
  • 85: Percentage of deaths linked to fentanyl in 2018 and 2019
  • 89: Percentage of deceased between the ages of 19 and 59