VANCOUVER — Illicit Drug Overdoses claimed 1,422 lives in British Columbia last year, setting a new threshold for the crisis that has been fuelled by the powerful opioid fentanyl.
The BC Coroners Service says last year’s Death toll is 43 per cent higher than 2016 when 993 overdose deaths were recorded.
Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe says the public health crisis is affecting people from all walks of life and government agencies need to continue working together to help reduce the stigma of drug addiction and increase awareness.
The province declared a state of emergency in April 2016 over the crisis, allowing more safe consumption sites to open and the distribution of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone.
The coroner says there appears to be more overdose deaths in the five days after income assistance payments are issued, with the average of six deaths per day.
More than half of the 2017 deaths involved those between the ages of 30 and 49.
The coroner says four out of five of those who died were male.
The province began distributing free kits containing naloxone through pharmacies in December in an effort to curb overdose deaths. About 1,900 kits were made available through 220 pharmacies provincewide.
The Canadian Press
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