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HomeNewsDisturbing increase in Illicit drug deaths in Northern Health

Disturbing increase in Illicit drug deaths in Northern Health

Northern Health tallied 132 illicit drug fatalities in 2020, according to the BC Coroners Service.

That was nearly double the number, 67, in 2019.

There were 17 deaths in Northern Health in December alone, tying August as the deadliest month in the region.

Over the past two years, 199 people have died in the north, which equates to over eight per month.

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Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe told the media today (Thursday) a disturbing trend is continuing.

“As has been the pattern throughout this public health emergency, the vast majority of those dying are inside a private residence or another residence and are males between 19 and 59 years of age.”

Leslie McBain is the co-founder of a group called Moms Stop the Harm and has lost her only child to an overdose in 2014.

She issued a stern warning to parents and their children.

“Now is not the time to use pills and powder recreationally. Now is not the time to experiment with drugs, it’s Russian Roulette and this last thing we want to have happened is to lose you.”

The Northern Health drug toxicity death rate of 46 per 100,000 thousand people is the highest in the province and is seven-points higher than Vancouver Coastal which is second at 39.

The BC Coroner Service says the Northern Interior Health Service Delivery Area, which encompasses PG-Quesnel-Burns Lake and the Robson Valley, had the second-highest drug toxicity death rate at 57.8 per 100-thousand people, trailing only Vancouver (58.9).

Mike Serr is the Chief Constable of the Abbotsford Police Department who stated the pandemic has had a negative impact on the public health emergency.

“As a result of increased isolation and reduced access to support services over this last year we are also seeing increased drug toxicity on our streets, in part, due to border closures, disrupted supply chains, and increased domestic production.”

The Northern Interior posted 85 illicit drug deaths in 2020, more than doubling the year prior’s total of 35.

15  of those fatalities occurred in December.

Province-wide, 152 deaths were reported to cap off the year, bringing the death toll to 1,716 – its the highest mark ever.

The year 2018 is second (1,549).

In 2020, 69% of those who died were between the ages of 30-59 and men accounted for 81% of all deaths.

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