An organizer displays a naloxone kit that people can pick up for free as International Overdose Awareness Day training seminar takes place at Centennial Square in Victoria, B.C., on Saturday August 31, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

An organizer displays a naloxone kit that people can pick up for free as International Overdose Awareness Day training seminar takes place at Centennial Square in Victoria, B.C., on Saturday August 31, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Nearly 6 people died from overdoses each day in June as B.C. sees continued spike

The death toll from an increasing toxic drug supply killed 175 people in B.C. in June

B.C. has reached a grim milestone, seeing record numbers of illicit drug overdoses for a second straight month.

In June, nearly 12 people died of a fatal overdose every two days across the province for a total of 175 lives lost.

In the first six months of 2020, B.C. has seen 728 deaths due to the toxic street drug supply. That’s compared to 543 during the same time period last year.

A majority of the deaths, or 70 per cent, are people aged 19 to 49 years old.

Broken down by health authority, there have been 488 overdoses in Vancouver Coastal, 556 in Fraser Health, 254 in Interior Health, 296 on Vancouver Island and 115 in the Northern Health region.

Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria continue to see the lions share of overdose deaths.

The concerning death toll comes as the province continues to grapple with two ongoing health crisis: the COVID-19 pandemic and the overdose crisis.

In a statement, chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said that the novel coronavirus has limited access to harm reduction services and called on doctors to follow the province’s guidance on prescribing legal opioids to drug users to support those at risk of overdose on the toxic drug supply.

“For those using substances – opioids or otherwise – please make sure you use only in the presence of someone who will call for immediate help if you need it, use at an overdose prevention or supervised consumption site, and have your drugs checked before using, if you can,” Lapointe said.

“The drug supply in our province is highly toxic and the risk of using alone is too high. Buddying up could save your life.”

Following the 170 deaths in May, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the pandemic has worsened the toxicity of the street-level drug supply, exacerbated by social contact restrictions forcing many to use drugs alone.

In an emotional address, the top doctor urged family and friends to reach out to drug users in their lives.

“Check up on your friends. Check up on those people, those workmates that you have that you may not be seeing as often. This is another time while we need to, while physically apart, connect with each other and support each other.”

More to come.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

opioids

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Health authority opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

Eliot Kinsey runs T3ch For the People at Ladysmith Secondary. (Jennifer Fink photo)
High school student joins program to improve access to technology

By George Brockhurst, LSS Student Writer As the world moves forward, people… Continue reading

Lymphedema is often treated with medical devices such as compression garments, pneumatic compression pumps, or specialized custom wraps and bandages. (Submitted photo)
March 6 marks World Lymphedema Day

Lymphedema is caused by damage to the lymphatic system, and afflictings millions worldwide

Work has begun on the Downtown Public Washroom on 1st Avenue. (Submitted photo)
Work has begun on the Ladysmith Downtown Public Washroom

The project is expected to be finished in the spring

An architectural rendering of the five storey condo building at 201/203 Dogwood Drive. (BJK Architecture photo)
Five storey condo building proposal at Dalby’s proceeds to public hearing stage

Frank and Mike Crucil of FMC Holdings are hoping to turn Dalby’s Automotive into a five storey condo

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Most Read