(Black Press Media files)

(Black Press Media files)

B.C. records highest ever number of fatal overdoses in May with 170 deaths

That’s 11 people dying from illicit drugs every two days

A concerning 170 people died from fatal overdoses in B.C. in May, marking the highest number of deaths in a single month since the crisis was declared in 2016.

That’s roughly 11 people every two days, according to BC Coroners Service data released Thursday (June 11).

The spike in fatalities is part of a notable trend in the province as social distancing restrictions due to COVID-19 has pushed drug users indoors.

In March, 113 people died from illicit drugs, followed by a further 118 people in April.

“More British Columbians died of overdose in one month than died in the whole first wave of COVID-19,” said Guy Felicella, a peer clinical supervisor with the BC Centre for Substance Use.

“All British Columbians should collectively share our grief and urge action to improve access to safer supply so people can get the help they need.”

A total of 554 people have fatally overdosed since the beginning of the year, with 128 lives lost in Vancouver, 72 in Surrey and 49 in Victoria.

Eighty-five per cent of all deaths have occurred indoors.

Most concerning, according to Postmortem toxicology results, is that nearly 20 per cent of the deaths in April and May involved extreme fentanyl concentrations. That’s compared to just nine per cent in January 2019 to March 2020.

“The drug supply is unpredictable and highly toxic, and has led to a sustained increase in fatal and non-fatal overdoses from smoking and injection in recent months,” said Dr. Jane Buxton, harm reduction lead for the BC Centre for Disease Control.

“COVID-19 has added challenges and people may be feeling more isolated and anxious, but it’s important to continue to buddy up, or access local overdose prevention and supervised consumption services during this time.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

overdose

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

Just Posted

Lieut. Orphée Bernard takes a twirl on his Movember moustache as Lieut. Jeff Allan, back left, firefighters Andrew Mills and Layne Polnick and Capt. Troy Libbus display an oversized cheque showing the amount of cash raised from the profits of custom-embroidered T-shirt sales. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo firefighters raise moustache cash

Firefighters support Movember Canada through T-shirt sale fundraiser

Patricia Kent, 25, was reported missing over the weekend, as her family has been unable to reach her, say police. (Photo submitted)
RCMP ask for help locating missing Nanaimo woman

Patricia Kent, 25, has not been seen nor heard from since Saturday, say police

An man from Errington died when his ATV went over an embankment on Northwest Bay Logging Road on the weekend. (File photo)
Man dies in ATV crash northwest of Nanaimo

Incident happened on Northwest Bay Logging Road on Saturday afternoon

Volunteers plant trees earlier this month as part of a City of Nanaimo initiative. (City of Nanaimo photo)
City holds ‘relay’ to plant 600 trees and shrubs in Nanaimo

Trees were planted along Chase River and at Third Street Park

Vancouver Island University organizations are raising awareness about gender-based violence during 16 Days of Activism, which includes the Red Dress Project hosted by VIUSU that aims to honour the memory of Canada’s missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. (Vancouver Island University photo)
City proclamation calls on Nanaimo to unite to end violence against women

16 Days of Activism campaign started Nov. 25, continues to Dec. 10

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Three Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Store volunteers have tested positive for COVID-19. (Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary photo)
Three Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Store volunteers test positive for COVID-19

Anyone who volunteered at Thrift Store between Nov. 14-Nov. 28 is asked to monitor for symptoms

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Left to right: A screenshot of NTC nurse navigator Lesley Cerney, FNHA regional mental health manager Georjeana Paterson and Island Health’s medical health officer Dr. Charmaine Enns addressing Ehattesaht community members from Ehatis reserve in a Facebook live update. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Medical team sent to Ehatis reserve near Zeballos to guide community through COVID outbreak

17 cases, eight recoveries and no hospitalizations as Island Health praises First Nation’s response

Most Read