More than six people died per day in B.C. from the poisoned drug supply in July, the latest preliminary report from BC Coroners Service shows.
The rate amounted to the deaths of 190 adults and two children under the age of 19.
That’s a small decrease from the 199 people who died in July 2021, but a significant increase from the 147 deaths recorded in June of this year.
The 192 deaths bring 2022’s total so far to 1,297 – a record high for the first seven months of any year.
Among them, the majority of people were aged 19 to 59. Thirty-six people were aged 19 to 29, another 36 were in their 30s, 40 were in their 40s, and 46 were in their 50s. Twenty-seven people were in their 60s, four were in their 70s and two were under 19. The age of one person is unknown.
The BC Coroners Service says it’s seen a steady increase in the number of people over age 50 fatally overdosing.
The highest number of deaths in July occurred in the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, where 60 people died. Another 50 people died in Fraser Health, 37 died in Interior Health, 32 died in Island Health and 13 died in Northern Health. Broken down further, the highest number of deaths outside of Vancouver were in the Okanagan, where 26 people died, and Fraser South, where 25 people died.
For all of 2022, the highest illicit drug toxicity death rate per 100,000 people is in Vancouver at 72.7. It’s followed by the Northwest at 66, Thompson Cariboo at 58.3, the Northern Interior at 56.4 and Fraser East at 53.1. The lowest rates are in the North Shore/Coast Garibaldi at 15.5, East Kootenay at 15.7 and Richmond at 17.
The majority of toxic drug deaths continue to occur in private residences. Throughout 2022, 56.5 per cent have been classified as such, with 23.1 per cent of deaths occurring in other residences (hotels, motels, SROs, etc.), 14.8 per cent occurring outside and the remainder happening at medical or correctional facilities, workplaces or public buildings.
The BC Coroners Service has found fentanyl was present in 82 per cent of toxic drug deaths in 2022 so far. Cocaine was present in 45 per cent and methamphetamine was present in 42 per cent.
The coroners service says there is no indication that prescribed safe supply is contributing to illicit drug deaths.
Since B.C. declared a public health emergency in 2016, more than 10,000 people have died from the toxic drug supply.