Drug overdose killed 914 people in 2016: coroner’s report

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Numbers of overdose deaths in 2016 were highest in Vancouver at 215, Surrey 108 and Victoria 88.

Drug overdoses killed 914 people in 2016 in BC , according to numbers released by the BC Coroners Service.

That’s nearly double the number of overdose-related deaths from the year 2015.

The exact percentage of overdoses that stem from fentanyl will be confirmed in March, as detection tests continue. Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said.

Not a single overdose death of the 142 in December occurred at a supervised consumption site or overdose prevention site, Lapointe said, applauding the efforts of social agency workers, volunteers, and first responders.

These numbers would be much higher if not for them, she said, calling the year-end statistics “the tip of the iceberg.”

Good news was that last month Health Minister Terry Lake announced overdose prevention sites would be set up in Vancouver, Surrey, and Victoria.

All three of those cities saw the highest numbers of overdose deaths in 2016, with Vancouver at 215, Surrey at 108 and Victoria at 88.

Since these sites opened, first responders and volunteers there have reversed almost 100 overdoses, Lake said, with the help of naloxone kits.

“The work going on at the front lines has been incredibly important in saving hundreds and hundreds of lives in our province.”

Roughly 80 per cent of overdose deaths occurred indoors, and Lapointe urged for those using drugs, to not use alone and keep naloxone kits close.The most deaths in one health authority occurred within the Fraser Health, with 301. Vancouver Coastal saw 253 deaths, Interior Health saw 156, Island Health saw 155 and the Northern Health Authority recorded 49.

More treatment beds on way

The province is pledging $16 million to expand a variety of recovery supports.

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