Overdose deaths were near record high in March

Overdose deaths were near record high in March

This represents a 24% increase over the March 2017 total of 130 illicit drug overdose deaths, and a 58% increase over last month's suspected total of 102. So far this year, there have been 391 deaths across B.C., with about a quarter (102) happening in the the City of Vancouver.

In April, the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services recorded the highest number of overdose calls in 17 months.

During the first quarter of 2018, there have been 391 suspected overdose deaths in the province, on par with the 400 reported through the first three months of previous year, the B.C. Coroners Service says.

The majority of deaths continue to be young- to middle-aged males who die in their homes or another residence, such as a hotel, motel, rooming house or shelter.

28 of those deaths on the Island happened in March.

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The coroner says over 1,400 inhabitants died from suspected illegal drug overdoses this past year.

The highest total ever for BC came in December of 2016, when there were 162 overdose deaths recorded. The fatality rate in Northeast B.C.is below the provincial average at 27 deaths per 100,000, while the Northern Health rate as a whole was the second-lowest in B.C.at 30.8 deaths per 100,000.

Despite efforts by government and health officials to increase harm reduction methods - such as free opioid-reversing nalaxone kits, safe consumption sites and fentanyl test strips - concerning trends have continued to plague all corners of the province.

The February numbers were a positive sign for chief coroner Lisa Lapointe, who said last month she was happy to see a decline in overdose deaths compared with the 126 people who died in January.

The B.C. Coroners Service report released this week looks at overdose deaths and those linked to fentanyl and notes there were 18 in the Thompson-Cariboo-Shuswap region where toxicology tests have shown the presence of the fentanyl.

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