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

The City of Nanaimo, as seen from the Nanaimo Parkway. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo’s state of the economy report points to positive outlook in hard times

Job losses and shutdowns have hurt, but some sectors showing resiliency

Firefighters from three departments battled a house fire south of Nanaimo for more than nine hours Sunday. (Photo courtesy Martin Leduc)
Home destroyed by fire south of Nanaimo

Firefighters from three fire departments battle blaze fanned by strong southerly winds on Sunday

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared over at Eden Gardens. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared over at Nanaimo’s Eden Gardens

One staff member and one resident tested positive for the virus over past two weeks

Gabriola Island poet Naomi Beth Wakan’s latest book is ‘Wind on the Heath.’ (Photo courtesy Elias Wakan)
Former Nanaimo poet laureate revisits past poems in latest collection

Gabriola Island’s Naomi Beth Wakan presents career-spanning ‘Wind on the Heath’

The south coast of B.C. as capture by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission. (European Space Agency)
VIDEO: Images of B.C.’s south coast from space released by European Space Agency

The satellite images focus on a variety of the region’s landmarks

A copy of the book “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” by Dr. Seuss, rests in a chair, Monday, March 1, 2021, in Walpole, Mass. Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the author and illustrator’s legacy, announced on his birthday, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, that it would cease publication of several children’s titles including “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo,” because of insensitive and racist imagery. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
6 Dr. Seuss books won’t be published for racist images

Books affected include McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat’s Quizzer

FILE – Oshawa Generals forward Anthony Cirelli, left, shoots and scores his team’s first goal against Kelowna Rockets goalie Jackson Whistle during second period action at the Memorial Cup final in Quebec City on Sunday, May 31, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
B.C. government approves plan in principle to allow WHL to resume in the province

League includes Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Prince George Cougars, Vancouver Giants, Victoria Royals

The fundraising effort to purchase 40 hectares west of Cottonwood Lake announced its success this week. Photo: Submitted
Nelson society raises $400K to save regional park from logging project

The Nelson community group has raised $400,000 to purchase 40 hectares of forest

AstraZeneca’s vaccine ready for use at the vaccination centre in Apolda, Germany, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Reichel/dpa via AP
National panel advises against using Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on seniors

NACI panel said vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are preferred for seniors ‘due to suggested superior efficacy’

A public health order has extended the types of health care professionals who can give the COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
‘It’s great that midwives are included’ in rollout of B.C.’s COVID vaccine plan, says college

The order will help the province staff the mass vaccination clinics planned for April

Shipping containers are seen at the Fairview Cove Container Terminal in Halifax on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Canadian economy contracted 5.4 per cent in 2020, worst year on record

Drop was largely due to shutdowns in the spring as COVID began to spread

Most Read