(from the files of Brendan Pawliw MyPGNow.com)
The BC Coroners Service reported 175 illicit drug deaths reported in July.
This is the third consecutive month where the province saw at least 170 suspected illicit drug deaths.
“The number of people dying in B.C. due to an unsafe drug supply continues to surpass deaths due to homicides, motor vehicle incidents, suicides, and COVID-19 combined,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner.
“This health emergency continues to take a tragic toll on people from all walks of life and in all communities of the province. Access to key harm reduction services in the midst of a dual health emergency has been a challenge, and the extreme concentration of the illicit fentanyl being trafficked is resulting in deaths within moments of use.
Last month’s total represents a 136% increase over the number of deaths seen in July 2019 (74).
“What the latest numbers show us is that the overdose crisis has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic and the unprecedented tragedy of death and loss to families in our province continues,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer.
“The toxicity of drug supply is extreme, and I implore anyone who may be using drugs to not do it alone. For friends and family members who are concerned about loved ones, reach out, and connect with them and let them know they are not alone.”
There have been 909 illicit drug deaths so far this year.
The number of non-fatal overdose incidents is also increasing, with a record high of over 2,700 calls reported by BC Emergency Health Services in July.
“Paramedics are responding to and reviving overdose patients about 80 times a day, every single day in B.C.,” said Jon Deakin, paramedic practice leader with BCEHS.
“It’s a lot. It’s the highest number of daily overdoses BCEHS has ever seen.”