A report from the BC Coroners Service shows that 206 British Columbians lost their lives to toxic drugs in April.
B.C. Government officials said this adds up to 814 deaths in the first four months of 2023.
The month’s numbers equate to about 6.9 lives lost per day, on average, with a death rate of 45.2 per 100,000 residents.
Locally, two drug poisoning deaths were reported in the East Kootenay in April, and none were found in the Kootenay Boundary area.
Across the Interior Health region, 120 people were killed by toxic drugs in April.
“The illicit drug supply remains highly volatile, challenging people’s best efforts to use safely and challenging life-saving responses, “said B.C. government officials. “Fentanyl is present in about eight of every 10 deaths, almost always in combination with other substances.”
April’s report has recorded an increased presence of benzodiazepines, which officials say is primarily the result of enhanced testing.
“Illicit fentanyl continues to be the main and most lethal driver of B.C.’s drug-toxicity public-health emergency, having been detected in 86 per cent of deaths in 2022 and 79 per cent of deaths in 2023,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner. “Cocaine, methamphetamines and/or benzodiazepines are also often present. This drug poisoning crisis is the direct result of an unregulated drug market. Members of our communities are dying because non-prescribed, non-pharmaceutical fentanyl is poisoning them on an unprecedented scale.”
According to B.C.’s representative for children and youth, Jennifer Charlesworth, there is no evidence that a diverted safer supply has been a factor in drug poisoning injuries and deaths of youth.
“Based on the reports of critical injuries and deaths that my office reviews every month, we have not seen any indication that youth are using from the diverted supply,” Charlesworth said. “The injuries and deaths reported to us are as a result of youth accessing the illicit supply and they are typically using an array of substances. Through our advocacy work and in-depth reviews, young people are advising us that they are accessing an illicit supply in order to cope with the trauma that they are dealing with in their lives.”