A woman holds up a sign bearing a photograph of Morgan Goodridge during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver on Saturday, August 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A woman holds up a sign bearing a photograph of Morgan Goodridge during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver on Saturday, August 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

155 overdose deaths in B.C. marks deadliest February on record

The pandemic has led to increased isolation and a more toxic drug supply

The province reported 155 fatal overdoses in February as the opioid crisis continues in B.C.

In a Wednesday (March 24) news release, the BC Coroners Service said that this was the 11th month in a row where more than 100 people had died.

“The number of deaths due to toxic illicit drugs in February highlights the ongoing critical risk to public health and safety from the illicit drug market,” said Lisa Lapointe, B.C.’s chief coroner. “The continued tragic and unprecedented rate of death in B.C. highlights the urgent need for a multi-faceted, evidence-based and accessible system of care for those experiencing problematic substance use.”

This was the deadliest February on record since the overdose crisis began nearly five years ago in B.C. with a 107 per cent increase over the same month last year.

February saw 5.5 people die per day, compared to an average of 4.7 people per day for 2020, when 1,724 people died in total.

An increasingly toxic drug supply and isolation, both brought on by the pandemic, have been blamed for the increase in deaths.

Data for the first two months of 2021 show that 81 per cent of those dying were male and that the highest number of deaths were reported in Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria. While the highest number of overdose deaths were in Fraser Health with 116 and Vancouver Coastal Health at 90, the highest rate of death was in Northern Health at 58 deaths per 100,000 individuals.

Overall in B.C., the rate of overdose deaths so far for 2021 is at 38 per 100,000 people, higher than 2020’s record 33.5 per 100,000.

Of the year’s 329 deaths, 192 – or 58 per cent – were in private residences, while 92 – or 28 per cent – were in other residences. An additional 36 – 10.9 per cent – were outside.

While the BC Coroners Service stressed that 2021 data is preliminary, thus far about 85 per cent of overdose deaths had fentanyl present this year, compared to 86 per cent last year.

Overall, between 2018 and 2020, fentanyl and its analogues were involved in 87 per cent of deaths, with cocaine at 48.7 per cent and methamphetamine at 38.4 per cent.

Extreme fentanyl concentrations, defined as exceeding 50 micrograms per litre, were found in 13 per cent of people who fatally overdoses between April 2020 and January 2021, compared to eight per cent from January 2019 to March 2020.

Carfentanil, deemed 100 times stronger than fentanyl, has been found in 31 deaths in the first two months of 2021, compared to 65 deaths in all of 2020.

READ MORE: 2020 marks deadliest year of overdose crisis in B.C. history


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

B.C. overdosesopioid crisis

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

Just Posted

Nanaimo playwright Anne Nesbitt is presenting a staged reading of her play about Indigenous conservationist Gertrude Bernard, also known as Anahareo (from left). (Photo courtesy Andrew Nesbitt/Riding Mountain National Park)
Nanaimo playwright tells the story of Indigenous woman who ‘saved the beaver’

Anne Nesbitt presents ‘Anahareo’ as part of TheatreOne staged reading series

The City of Nanaimo is looking at spending another $400,000 on security throughout downtown in 2021, with a focus on overnight security. (Stock photo)
City of Nanaimo looks at increasing downtown security

Council members will consider $400,000 increase in 2021, $1.45 million in 2022

‘Nanaimo’ will be spelled out in five-foot-tall letters upon a slab of concrete overlooking Swy-a-Lana Lagoon at Maffeo Sutton Park. (Greg Sakaki/The News Bulletin)
Five-foot-tall letters spelling out ‘Nanaimo’ coming to Maffeo Sutton Park

$50,000-project expected to be installed by the end of April

Nanaimo RCMP hope the public can help find a 37-year-old man who was last seen early Tuesday, April 13. (Photo submitted)
RCMP searching for missing Nanaimo man

Friends, family of Robert William Sport, 37, extremely concerned for his safety and well-being

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Titanic was the largest and most luxurious ship in the world. Photo provided and colourized by Jiri Ferdinand.
QUIZ: How much do you know about the world’s most famous shipwreck?

Titanic sank 109 years ago today, after hitting an iceberg

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees on highway near Ladysmith

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Vancouver Island’s Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

A Nanaimo man will serve nine months in jail for the sexual assault of a young girl he admitted to having committed more than 40 years ago. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo man sentenced for sexually abusing girl more than 40 years ago

Man, now 71, gets nine-month sentence for abuse of friend’s daughter

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo teen arrested a day after allegedly assaulting and bullying victim

Teen taken into custody after wielding weapon and threatening driver at scene of car crash

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photo courtesy Ella Smiley)
Orcas near the beach thrill whale watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

RCMP on scene yesterday at the altercation at the trailer park. (Submitted photo)
Violent altercation at Port Hardy trailer park sends one to hospital

Police say man confronted another over airsoft shooting, then was attacked with a weapon

Most Read