(Files by Catherine Garrett-MyPGNow)
162 people in BC died last month from illicit drug toxicity and fentanyl, according to the BC Coroner’s Service.
128 illicit drug deaths recorded last month included fentanyl.
“This is the fifth month this year with more than 160 suspected illicit drug deaths reported to the BC Coroners Service and more than double the number of people who died as a result of a toxic drug supply in October 2019,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner.
“We are continuing to see record-breaking numbers of people dying in B.C. due to an unsafe drug supply in our province, and it’s taking a toll on families and communities in this dual health emergency,” Lapointe said.
The number of people who died from illicit drug toxicity in October represents a 116% increase over the number of deaths in October 2019 (75).
The highest death rate continues to be in Northern Health, with 44 per 100,000 compared to BC’s average of 32 per 100,000.
However, Northern Health was the only region to mark a decrease, as the region saw ten deaths, compared to 14 in September.
Six of the ten involved fentanyl.
Five of Northern Health’s illicit drug deaths have come from Prince George in October.
In addition, the Coroner Service added the Northern Interior Health Service Delivery Area, which encompasses PG-Quesnel-Burns Lake and the Robson Valley, continued to have the second-highest drug toxicity death rate at 53.9 per 100-thousand people, trailing only Vancouver (57.0).
Prince George has accounted for 43 of the health authorities’ 106 deaths this year.
The northern capital has recorded 127 illicit drug deaths between 2018-2020, which is the third-highest number in the province only behind Kamloops (133) and Vancouver (971)
There have been 1,386 illicit drug deaths to date in 2020 in British Columbia.
Post-mortem toxicology testing data published in this report again suggest an increase in the number of cases with extreme fentanyl concentrations (exceeding 50 micrograms per litre) in April to October, compared with previous months.