Drug overdose deaths surge 74 per cent so far in 2016

Coroners record 56 deaths in January and 371 for the year's first six months, fentanyl detected in 60 per cent

Drug overdose deaths are up sharply in 2016

Drug overdose deaths are up sharply in 2016

Statistics released for the first half of 2016 now show 371 people died in B.C. of illicit drug overdoses, a 74 per cent jump from the same period of 2015.

Fentanyl was detected in about 60 per cent of the deaths for which testing has been performed, up from a 31 per cent detection rate for the powerful opioid in 2015.

And the B.C. Coroners Service says fentanyl-linked deaths that were in past years mainly concentrated in the Lower Mainland are now regularly happening throughout B.C.

On Vancouver Island and in the southern Interior, more deaths tied to fentanyl have been detected so far in 2016 than in all of 2015.

Cities with 10 or more fentanyl-related deaths so far this year include Vancouver (29), Surrey (22), Victoria (19), Nanaimo (13), Kelowna (12) and Maple Ridge (10).

The largest numbers of total illicit drug deaths for the first six months of 2016 have been recorded in Vancouver (69), Surrey (44), Victoria (29), Kamloops (22), Kelowna (19), Abbotsford(16) and Nanaimo and Maple Ridge, both with 15.

The Fraser health region accounted for 114 deaths or 30 per cent of the provincial total.

More than 30 per cent of deaths happened in the Fraser health region, which accounted for 114 deaths or 30 per cent of the provincial total.

While the 56 new overdose deaths recorded B.C.-wide in June was down slightly from this year’s worst months of January through April, the new number was still very high by historical standards.

Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe urged extreme caution for those using illegal drugs, as well as immediate action to aid anyone overdosing, including the use of naloxone, which is available in take-home kits that can quickly prevent an overdose from becoming fatal.

Drug deaths were declared a public health emergency in B.C. in April, and anxiety has grown with the arrival of emerging street drugs like W-18, which is considered much riskier even than fentanyl.

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

Just Posted

City of Williams Lake considering using remainder of COVID Safe Restart Grant to make up for unpaid taxes. (City of Williams Lake photo)
Williams Lake weighs allocating rest of COVID safe restart grant in capital programs

The $546,205 lef of the $2.6 million could make up for $746,874 in outstanding taxes

Chief Joe Alphonse
OP-ED: Williams Lake municipal, regional councils lack awareness on historical trauma

Systemic racism isn’t always obvious to those that are not experiencing it

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

The City of Williams Lake is asking for public feedback on whether it should explore the opportunity to host a Greater Metro Hockey League team in Williams Lake. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake GMHL expansion questions, concerns, to be discussed later this month

If approved, the team would begin play in the fall of 2021

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled Feb. 26 that the estate of deceased Sooke man and Hells Angels prospect Michael Widner is to be divided between his wife and his secret spouse. (Black Press Media file photo)
Estate of dead B.C. Hells Angels prospect to be divided between wife, secret spouse

Michael Widner’s 2017 death left a number of unanswered questions

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of its Janssen subsidiary’s COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Johnson & Johnson via AP
Canada approves Johnson & Johnson’s 1-shot COVID-19 vaccine

It is the 4th vaccine approved in Canada and the 1st that requires just a single dose

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second death reported in Kelowna General Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

A total of seven cases have been identified at the hospital: six patients and one staff

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Most Read