Drug overdose deaths surge 74 per cent so far in 2016

Coroners record 56 deaths in January and 371 for the year's first six months, fentanyl detected in 60 per cent

Drug overdose deaths are up sharply in 2016

Statistics released for the first half of 2016 now show 371 people died in B.C. of illicit drug overdoses, a 74 per cent jump from the same period of 2015.

Fentanyl was detected in about 60 per cent of the deaths for which testing has been performed, up from a 31 per cent detection rate for the powerful opioid in 2015.

And the B.C. Coroners Service says fentanyl-linked deaths that were in past years mainly concentrated in the Lower Mainland are now regularly happening throughout B.C.

On Vancouver Island and in the southern Interior, more deaths tied to fentanyl have been detected so far in 2016 than in all of 2015.

Cities with 10 or more fentanyl-related deaths so far this year include Vancouver (29), Surrey (22), Victoria (19), Nanaimo (13), Kelowna (12) and Maple Ridge (10).

The largest numbers of total illicit drug deaths for the first six months of 2016 have been recorded in Vancouver (69), Surrey (44), Victoria (29), Kamloops (22), Kelowna (19), Abbotsford(16) and Nanaimo and Maple Ridge, both with 15.

The Fraser health region accounted for 114 deaths or 30 per cent of the provincial total.

More than 30 per cent of deaths happened in the Fraser health region, which accounted for 114 deaths or 30 per cent of the provincial total.

While the 56 new overdose deaths recorded B.C.-wide in June was down slightly from this year’s worst months of January through April, the new number was still very high by historical standards.

Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe urged extreme caution for those using illegal drugs, as well as immediate action to aid anyone overdosing, including the use of naloxone, which is available in take-home kits that can quickly prevent an overdose from becoming fatal.

Drug deaths were declared a public health emergency in B.C. in April, and anxiety has grown with the arrival of emerging street drugs like W-18, which is considered much riskier even than fentanyl.

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

Just Posted

VIDEO: North Island Bantam Eagles are ready for playoffs

The bantams will be playing their first two playoff games in Port McNeill this weekend.

Bradshaw’s Photo Highlight: The top of Mt. Wolfenden

“A few shots at different focal lengths and then I was back inside editing with a coffee in hand”

Check out a new future at career and education fair in Comox

Event today features booths from more than 40 employers and educational institutions

Book reading: The Blue Haired Girl

Adam Hayes will be at the Book Nook (inside Cafe Guido) Feb. 1 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Veteran Island journalist battles cancer through pioneering treatment

Vancouver Island rallies around JR Rardon and family during stay in Seattle

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

VIDEO: Drone footage shows extent of damage in Highway 4 rockslide

Tofino, Ucluelet still cut off from rest of the island, as crews work to repair roadway

People knowingly take fentanyl so make policy changes to reduce harm: B.C. study

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources,

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

UBC grad and sister killed in Iran plane crash had bright futures ahead, close friend says

Asadi-Lari siblings Mohammad Hussein and Zeynab were two of 57 Canadians aboard downed Flight PS752

BCLC opens novelty bet on Harry and Meghan moving to the west coast

Meanwhile, real estate agency points to four possible homes for the family

Canada slips in global corruption ranking in aftermath of SNC-Lavalin scandal

The country obtained a score of 77, which places it at the top in the Americas

Wuhan bans cars, Hong Kong closes schools as coronavirus spreads

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said her government will raise its response level to emergency, highest one

Most Read