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Northern Health still leading the province in illicit drug deaths per capita

The B.C. Coroner’s Service is reporting an overall increase in illicit drug deaths for March and April.

An average of 3 British Columbians have died each day due to drug toxicity in the first four months of 2020.

“Illicit drug toxicity death rates in B.C. are still the highest for any jurisdiction in Canada,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner.

Provincially, April saw 117 suspected illicit drug-related deaths.

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This represents a 39% increase over the 84 deaths in April of last year.

“We have seen an increase in illicit drug activity deaths in March and April of this year, the first time we’ve seen back-to-back month of over 100 illicit drug deaths since November and December of 2018,” explained Andy Watson, spokesperson for the BC Coroner’s Service.

Northern Health currently has the highest rate of illicit drug deaths: 28 per 100,000 individuals compared to the provincial average of 22 per 100,000.

So far in 2020, 71% of deaths occurred in individuals aged 19 to 49 and 79% were male.

83% of illicit drug toxicity deaths occurred inside, while and 12% occurred outside.

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

“People are using alone and in many cases, the reason for that is there is a stigma associated with drug use,” said Watson.

The BC Centre for Disease Control is reporting spikes in fatal and non-fatal overdoses through both smoking and injecting.

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