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Drug Deaths In BC Are On The Decline For First Half of 2019

Drug Deaths In BC

On Friday, updated reports from the BC Coroners Service revealed that drug deaths in BC are on the decline for the first half of this year.

The reports cover illicit drug toxicity deaths and fentanyl-detected drug deaths up until the end of June.

Drug Deaths In BC

Here are key preliminary findings of these drug death reports:

  • In June 2019, there were 73 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths, a 35% decrease from June 2018 (113), and a 15% decrease from May 2019 (86).
  • There were approximately 2.4 illicit drug toxicity deaths per day in June 2019.
  • For the first half of 2019, there were 538 illicit drug toxicity deaths, a 30% decrease over the same six-month period in 2018 when 763 were reported.
  • In 2019, 71% of those dying were aged 30 to 59 years. Individuals aged 19 to 59 years have accounted for 89% of all illicit drug toxicity deaths in 2019.
  • Males accounted for 78% of all suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths in 2019.
  • Fentanyl was detected in more than four of every five illicit drug toxicity deaths in 2018 and 2019.
  • After higher levels of carfentanil detection in the first four months of 2019, peaking at 32 deaths in March, there were decreases in May (13) and June (4).
  • No deaths have been reported at supervised consumption sites or drug overdose prevention sites.

In an effort to change the stigma drug-users face, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry published a special report back in April calling for the decriminalization of drug possession for personal use.

Henry said that despite current harm-reduction initiatives, an average of four people continue to die in B.C. each day due to the province’s illegal drug supply.

In addition, one expert in the field also recently proposed vending machines with clean drugs as a solution to Vancouver’s crisis.


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