Overdose deaths in British Columbia have significantly declined in the first five months of 2019 compared to 2018, according to the BC Coroners Service’s most recent update on the health crisis.
According to health officials, between January and May 2019, overdose deaths were down 30% compared to this same time period last year.
With new 2019 information available, the BC Coroners Service is cautiously optimistic about the future.
“The data is subject to change and totals for 2019 will likely increase as post-mortem testing results are received, but it is a sign for cautious optimism,” said the organization in a statement.
In total, BC saw 462 overdose deaths in the first five months of this year. In the same time period last year, 651 deaths were recorded.
Additionally, the average monthly amount of deaths in 2019 is down approximately one-third from the same time period in 2018, with an average of 92 deaths per month this year compared to 130 deaths per month last year.
In April 2019, 86 illicit drug-related deaths occurred in the province. Meanwhile, in April 2018, 137 deaths were recorded.
Concerning trends continue
According to health officials, the leading overdose death location in the province continues to be indoors, with nearly 9 in every 10 deaths occurring inside, and over half of them taking place in a private residence.
The presence of fentanyl in illicit drugs is also a consistent concern for the BC Coroners Service, as 83% of all overdose deaths involved fentanyl or its analogues.
While the rate of fentanyl in overdose deaths declined slightly from 2018’s 87%, it is still significantly higher than previous years. By comparison, in 2012 fentanyl was detected in only 4% of illicit drug deaths.
In total, BC saw 1,489 suspected illicit drug overdose deaths in 2018.