Heartfelt messages are left on a table as people come out to mark International Overdose Awareness Day during a mass group naloxone training seminar at Centennial Square in Victoria, B.C., on Saturday August 31, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

In the first eight months of 2020, B.C. has already surpassed last year’s total of illicit drug overdose deaths.

Just shy of 150 people fatally overdosed in August, or roughly nine people every two days, bringing the total since January to 1,068 deaths, according to data released Wednesday (Sept. 23) by the BC Coroners Service.

In 2019, 983 people died – a majority, or due to illicit fentanyl, a powerful street-level opioid.

Broken down by city, Vancouver saw the lions share of deaths so far this year, at 259, followed by Surrey (130), Victoria (95) and Kelowna and Kamloops (both 36).

Data shows that fatal overdose rates, however, have increased in recent months in the Northern Health region.

Amid the pandemic, the toxicity of the street-level drug supply has drastically increased, sparking concerns by top doctors and researchers, including provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and chief coroner Lisa Lapointe.

Once again, post-mortem toxicology testing data published in this most recent report suggests an increase in the number of cases with extreme fentanyl concentrations (exceeding 50 micrograms per litre) in the summer, compared to previous months.

The new death toll comes just a week after provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued an order allowing registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses to prescribe safer drugs as a way to curb the use of illicit drugs.

READ MORE: Some B.C. nurses given green light to prescribe safe drugs amid overdose spike


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

overdose

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

Just Posted

Up to 15 centimetres of snow is forecasted in the Okanagan Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. (File photo)
With snow expected, Penticton reminds locals of road clearing procedures

It can take the city up to 48 hours to clear some locations

Neil Fassina will become the new president of Okanagan College on April 1, 2021. (Contributed)
Okanagan College recruits new president

Current Athabasca University president Neil Fassina to replace Jim Hamilton on April 1, 2021

COVID-19. (Courtesy of CDC).
Interior Health reports 12 additional COVID-19 cases

The total number of cases in the region is now at 644

Cheryl McCafferty hands a driver their breakfast during the United Way’s 2020 Drive Thru Breakfast. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
United Way Drive Thru raises $20K so far

Donations still coming in for the local charity

Brian Shiosaki helps his neighbours by shoveling the sidewalk near his home in Rutland during a large snowfall in Kelowna Tuesday. (Carli Berry/Capital News)
Special weather statement in effect for Okanagan Valley

The Okanagan could see up to 15 centimeters of snow on Friday

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (B.C. Government photo)
Kelowna Francophone school COVID-19 outbreak climbs to 5, mixture of students and staff

Health officer says situation evolving, spoke to possible closure, changes to provincial guidelines

Actor Ryan Reynolds surprised a Shuswap family with a special birthday message to their son who was worried he’d be alone on his 9th birthday on Nov. 24. (Tiffanie Trudell/Facebook)
Ryan Reynolds text almost gives away Shuswap boy’s birthday surprise

Deadpool actor helps remind eight-year-old Canoe resident he’s not alone

Colin James put on a great show at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds as part of the 2019 Vancouver Island MusicFest. But his Okanagan tour for 2020 has been postponed until 2021. (Photo by Terry Farrell)
COVID-19 cancels Corb Lund’s Vernon, Penticton, Trail, Cranbrook concerts

The Contenders, Colin James and Lund postponed until 2021

RCMP detachments across B.C. are now flying Pride flags. (Submitted photo)
Man who spent 4 days injured on floor rescued by Kamloops Mountie

The man is recovering in hospital after being rescued by a police officer conducting a well-being check

Vancouver police reactivated the search for Jordan Naterer Thursday Oct. 22. Photo courtesy of VPD.
Mom of missing Manning Park hiker believes her son is waiting to come home

‘He’s going to come out of a helicopter and say ‘what took you so long?”

A fundraiser for the Falkland Community Church is underway. (Photo submitted)
COVID-19 leaves Falkland Church in a lurch

Annual event/major fundraiser cancelled for first time in 34 years

Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Site C actions, costs won’t be known until after B.C. election, Horgan says

Peace River diverted for construction of reinforced dam base

Five people with alleged ties to the Red Scorpion Gang are facing numerous charges. (Kelowna RCMP)
5 men linked to Red Scorpion gang charged with gun, drug offences in Kelowna

Police seized a machine gun as well as 5.5 kilograms of fentanyl and carfentanil

Most Read