The BC Coroners Service has published an updated report on deaths due to illicit drug toxicity to the end of March 2020, and the number of deaths appears to be on the rise.
In March 2020 there were 113 deaths due to suspected illicit drug toxicity. There have not been more than 100 illicit drug deaths in a month in BC since March of 2019. While 113 deaths is a 3% decrease from the 117 deaths that occurred in 2019, it is a 61% increase from the 70 deaths recorded in February 2020.
When compared to the January and February average in 2020, the increase in illicit drug toxicity deaths in March occurred in every health authority in BC. Most notably, Fraser Health Authority saw a 91% increase, followed by Island Health Authority which showed an 80% increase. However, categorizing by region in 2020, Northern Health Authority has the highest rate of illicit drug toxicity deaths, followed by Interior Health.
The rates of death from 2018 to March 2020 are highest in the communities of Hope, Fort Nelson, Lillooet, Arrow Lakes, and the North Thompson region.
73% of those dying are in the 19-49 age range, with males continuing to account for the highest number of illicit drug toxicity deaths. 76% of 2020 illicit drug related deaths were men.
So far, no deaths have been reported at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites.