(Files by Brendan Pawliw-MyPGNow)
Over five people per day on average died from illicit drug toxicity in BC during the month of June.
According to the BC Coroners Service, Northern Health recorded six fatalities during the month.
So far in 2021, 65 people have lost their lives to illicit drugs in the north.
“Today is International Overdose Awareness Day; a day in which we remember and mourn the family members, friends, and neighbours we’ve lost to drug toxicity,” said Lisa Lapointe, BC’s Chief Coroner.
“To the thousands of B.C. families grieving the loss of a beloved family member, I extend my heartfelt condolences and my hope that the stories you’ve shared will continue to influence positive change. Those who died mattered and their loss is felt deeply, and we must continue to urge those in positions of influence across our province and the country to move to urgently implement measures to prevent more unnecessary suffering and death.”
Province-wide, at least 159 lives were lost in June due to toxic illicit drugs – the second deadliest June on record after 185 deaths were tallied in 2020.
There have been 1,011 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths between January and June of this year.
This is the highest number of deaths ever recorded during the first six months of a calendar year and represents a 34% spike from the same time in 2020 (757).
In 2021, 40% of deaths were from people who are 50 years of age and up.
The illicit drug toxicity death rate for the 50-59 age category is far and away the highest in BC at 75 per 100,000 residents – 11 points ahead of those who are between the ages of 40 and 49 (64.5).
The Coroners Service also confirmed this is the 16th consecutive month in which over 100 British Columbians have passed away from illicit drugs.
Northern Health has the second-highest drug toxicity rate out of all the health authorities in BC at 44.9 per 100,000 residents – just over a point behind Vancouver Coastal at 46.2.
In terms of the Health Service Delivery Area, the Northern Interior, which encompasses PG-Quesnel-Burns Lake and the Robson Valley has the sixth-highest drug toxicity death rate at 44.7.
Vancouver is a whopping 24 points ahead with a rate of 68.2.
The detection rate of benzodiazepines has rapidly increased from 15% of samples in July of 2020 to 60% of samples as of May of this year.
Men have accounted for 80% of deaths in 2021.