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B.C. Coroners Service reports increase in overdose fatalities in March, April

Illicit drug use is taking a deadly toll in our province.

This is the finding of the BC Coroners Service, which is sharing an update on illicit drug toxicity and fentanyl-detected drug deaths in British Columbia.

An average of three British Columbians died each day due to a drug overdose in the first four months of 2020.

“Illicit drug toxicity death rates in B.C. are still the highest for any jurisdiction in Canada,” says Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner. “Every region in B.C. has been impacted.”

Overdose fatality totals for March and April, 112 and 117 deaths respectively, mark the first time B.C. has recorded over 100 illicit drug toxicity deaths in back-to-back months since November and December 2018.

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There have been 382 fatal drug overdoses so far this year.

Seventy-one per cent of those who died were between 19 and 49 years old and nearly 80 per cent were men.

No deaths have been reported at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites.

Lapointe says recent efforts to improve access to safe supply in B.C. are encouraging, and that the “BC Coroners Service is supporting continued enhancement of this critical life-saving measure.”

“We continue to recommend a regulated, evidence-based, supportive treatment and recovery system as an important pillar in preventing future deaths.”

She adds that the Coroners Service is continuing to work with its partners to collaboratively share information to better understand the situation.

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