With 247 overdose deaths this year in Vancouver alone, the city is taking part in an international event today, meant to highlight – and create awareness – around the ongoing overdose crisis.
Known as International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD), the day’s events will include two separate gatherings in the city.
Beginning at noon and running until 4 pm, there will be an IOAD public event set up at 58 West Hastings.
Then, from 5 pm to 8 pm, there will be an IOAD vigil and rally at the North Plaza of the the Vancouver Art Gallery.
“International Overdose Awareness Day is an important time to support the thousands of Vancouver families who have been devastatingly impacted by drug overdose deaths,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.
The city is “pulling out all the stops to turn this brutal overdose crisis around, and encouraging provincial and federal governments to step up and help solve it,” he added.
— Gregor Robertson (@MayorGregor) August 31, 2017
Robertson also thanked city staff and first responders “who continue to work tirelessly to save lives, prevent drug overdose deaths, and connect people to the mental health and addictions services they need, when they need it.”
The number of suspected deaths due to overdose has reached 247 so far in 2017, surpassing the total number recorded in 2016.
Last week alone, the VPD reported a suspected nine deaths due to overdose for the week of August 21, an increase from six reported the previous week.
A total of 156 overdose calls were recorded by the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services (VFRS) recorded 156 overdose support calls for the same period, an increase from 92 reported the week before.