Stock photo licensed by Victoria Buzz

The BC Coroners Service has released more illicit drug overdose statistics, which show the number of deaths continue to rise in the province and fentanyl is playing a large role.

There were 308 deaths linked to illicit drug overdoses between January and May 2016 — up 75 per cent over the same period last year, when there were 176 deaths, according to a media release from the Coroners Service.

A recent report shows 66 of those deaths were on Vancouver Island, of which 24 occurred in Victoria.

According to the Coroners Service, fentanyl was detected alone or with other drugs in 56 per cent of the overdoses, in the first four months of 2016. From January to May, 61.6 people on average died each month from an overdose. Compare that to 2015 when the average number of illicit drug overdose deaths per month was about 40.3.

The largest number of overdoses occurred in January when 77 people died. May has had the fewest number deaths so far this year with 42, which is on par with both May 2014 and May 2015.

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