September overdose deaths down from August

Greater number of cases with “extreme fentanyl concentrations”

Emergency personnel attend to an individual experiencing a drug overdose on the Downtown Eastside | File photo: Dan Toulgoet

B.C. drug overdose deaths in September decreased 15% compared with August but were 112% higher than September 2019, the BC Coroners Service said Oct. 20.

There were 127 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths in September, compared with 60 for the month last year and 150 this August.

That translates to about 4.2 overdoses per day in September.

Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria continue to have the highest number of illicit drug toxicity deaths this year with 70% of those dying between the ages of 30 and 59. Males accounted for 80% of deaths.

Overdose death rates have decreased in recent months from highs in May, June and July.

Illicit drug toxicity death rates among all age groups declined from highs in May, June and July. Overdose rates among people aged 40 to 59 remain at high levels.

No deaths have been reported at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites.

An accompanying report said there were about 94 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths with fentanyl detected in September.

The coroner’s service said post-mortem toxicology results suggest that there have been more cases with extreme fentanyl concentrations in April-September 2020 compared with previous months.

From April-September, some 15% of cases had extreme fentanyl concentrations as compared with 8% from Jan 2019 to March 2020.

In April-Sept 2020, 19% of fentanyl-detected illicit drug toxicity deaths were in Vancouver.

Coastal Health had extreme concentrations followed by 15% in Fraser Health and 14% in Interior Health.

Approximately 80% of illicit drug toxicity deaths in B.C. – or 963 of 1,202 deaths – in 2020 have fentanyl detected.

Health service delivery areas with the most fentanyl-detected illicit drug toxicity deaths in 2020 are Vancouver (236), Fraser South (153), South Vancouver Island (100), Fraser North (93) and Okanagan (68). 

The highest numbers of deaths were seen in Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria. 

jhainsworth@glaciermedia.ca

@jhainswo