An average of six people died every day from illicit drug toxicity in B.C. in April, according to the BC Coroners Service report.
April saw a 43 per cent increase compared to the year before with 176 deaths — the total for the year is 680.
“These latest numbers emphasize the toxicity of the illicit drug supply in B.C.,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner.
“We know that substance use disorder is a complex health issue and those experiencing it need meaningful and compassionate services and supports. Far too often, we hear from families who have lost a loved one that no help was available despite desperate searches over months or years.”
The Central Vancouver Island health service delivery area reported 10 deaths in April — the total for the year is 29. Six of those deaths occurred in the Oceanside local health area.
It was the fourteenth consecutive month in which more than 100 British Columbians died from suspected illicit drug toxicity and raises the provincial rate of deaths for 2021 to 39.3 per 100,000 residents, according to the provincial government.
Northern Health reported the highest death rate in the province at 50 per 100,000 people, significantly higher than the provincial average. Island Health recorded 37 illicit drug toxicity deaths per 100,000 people. The Oceanside local health area’s rate of 34.3 per 100,000 people is also below the provincial average.
The report found men accounted for 79 per cent of the deaths and 70 per cent of the lives lost were people ages 30–59.
The toxicity of the drug supply in B.C. has continued to increase, according to the province. Fentanyl has been detected in 86 per cent of deaths this year, while carfentanil, a more potent analogue of fentanyl, has been found in 62 samples — almost as many as were detected in all of 2020 (65).
The report also notes a continued increase in the presence of benzodiazapenes, which were detected in 57 per cent of samples in April, almost four times the amount reported in July 2020 (15 per cent).
No deaths have been reported at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites, according to the province.