1,422 British Columbians died of suspected drug overdoses in 2017

Jan 31 2018, 8:18 pm

More than 1,400 British Columbians died from suspected illicit drug overdoses in 2017, according to the BC Coroners Service.

In a release, the province said there were 1,422 people killed in suspected drug overdoses last year, up 43% from 2016.

Most of the people who died in 2017 were in Vancouver, where 358 people were killed, followed by Surrey, where 174 people died, and Victoria, where 91 people died.

Provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall said the data shows BC is still in the midst of a “persistent and continuing epidemic of unintentional poisoning deaths.”

“Through heroic and unprecedented actions, responders on the front lines are daily saving hundreds of lives,” said Kendall.

“But hundreds more are still dying, most often alone and with no-one nearby to act when things go wrong. We are going to need to think more broadly, and further out of our comfort zone, to end these tragic losses.”

More than half of those people who died were between the ages of 30 and 49, and people aged 19 to 59 years accounted for 90% of those who died.

Around four out of five people killed were men. Most people who died were in a private home at the time.

Around 81% of the people who died of suspected illicit drug deaths in 2017 had taken fentanyl, up from 67% in 2016.

In most cases, fentanyl was combined with other illegal drugs, most often cocaine, heroin or methamphetamines.

Carfentanil was detected in 64 suspected illicit drug overdose deaths between June and December of 2017.

The number of people who died from suspected drug overdoses in 2017 will likely increase as more analysis is completed.

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