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Over 1,600 lives lost to toxic drugs in last nine months in B.C.

At least 171 people died from drug toxicity in September, putting the province closer to 2,000 deaths for the second consecutive year.

From January to September, 1,644 lives were lost, the largest number ever recorded in the first nine months of a calendar year.

“British Columbians are continuing to suffer the tragic effects of a toxic and volatile drug supply, with almost six members of our communities dying each day,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner in a release.

“Both those who use drugs occasionally and those who are substance-dependent are at risk of sudden death from the unpredictable illicit market.”

September was also the 24th consecutive month in which at least 150 deaths were reported.

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According to the data, Island Health saw 34 toxic drug deaths this month while Vancouver Coastal Health saw 52.

Island Health has recorded 615 deaths since 2021, with nearly 1,100 in Vancouver Coastal Health.

Minister of mental health and addictions Sheila Malcolmson says more needs to be done to address the crisis.

“So many have been profoundly affected by this terrible crisis. My heart grieves for the people lost and the families, friends and loved ones they left behind. We are determined to end this tragic loss of life,” said Malcolmson. 

“When people make the courageous decision to come forward and get help, we want supports to meet them. We keep opening new and expanded services across the continuum of care, from treatment and recovery, to critical harm reduction and prevention measures that save lives.”

According to the province, more than 10,300 people have been killed by drug poisoning since the public health emergency was declared in 2016.

With files from Josiah Spyker.

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