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Nearly 380 killed by toxic drugs on Vancouver Island this year, province passes 2,000

For the third consecutive year, over 2,000 people have been killed by toxic drugs in the province, including nearly 380 on Vancouver Island.

This comes as data is released for the total drug deaths in October. The province says 189 lives were lost province-wide, including 35 on Vancouver Island. A further 57 were killed in Vancouver Coastal Health and 63 in Fraser Health.

The numbers mean around 6.1 lives were lost per day in October. Consistent with historical records, the province says about seven in every 10 deaths were between the ages of 30 and 59-years-old.

So far this year, 21 deaths have been recorded in the Comox Valley, 31 in the Cowichan Valley, 31 in Campbell River, 86 in Nanaimo, six in Powell River, six on the Sunshine Coast, and one death on the North Island.

Vancouver Island has also had some of the highest unregulated drug death rates per 100,000 this year. The Central Island had a rate of 67.2, while the North Island recorded a 60.5 death rate.

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October was the 37th consecutive month where at least 150 deaths were suspected to have been caused by the toxic-drug supply. The number is a nine per cent decrease from October 2022.

The province adds smoking is the most common mode of consumption this year with 65 per cent showing evidence of smoking, followed by injection at 14 per cent and oral at four per cent.

“As we face the sombre reality presented in the latest BC Coroners Service report, our hearts go out to the families and friends mourning the loss of 189 individuals in October to the poisoned drug supply,” said minister of mental health and addictions Jennifer Whiteside.

“Each of these lives was an integral part of the fabric of our province and our communities, and their absence leaves a void that cannot be filled.”

Whiteside adds that over 13,200 people have died in B.C. because of poisoned drugs since the crisis was declared in 2016.

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