BC has hit another grim milestone in the overdose crisis.
According to the BC Coroners Service, the province has surpassed 10,000 deaths since declaring a public health emergency over toxic illicit drugs more than six years ago.
Since 2016, the province has repeatedly seen a record number of people dying from toxic drugs.
Between January and June of this year, 1,095 British Columbians have succumbed to the toxic drug supply in the province, according to preliminary data from the BC Coroners Service.
“Deaths due to toxic drugs in the first half of 2022 have surpassed the number of deaths experienced in the same period in 2021, putting our province, once again, on track for a record loss of life,” said BC’s Chief Coroner, Lisa Lapointe.
“These were men, women and youth from all walks of life. They lived in our neighbourhoods, worked in our workplaces and played on our sports teams. Some lived ordinary lives, while others faced enormous challenges. All of them fell prey to the lethal supply of illicit drugs that is omnipresent,” added Lapointe.
More than three quarters (78%) of the lives lost in 2022 were men and nearly the same percentage (73%) were between the ages of 30-59. On average, more than six lives are lost to illicit drugs every day this year.
The highest number of deaths due to illicit drug overdoses were recorded in the Fraser Health region (352) followed by Vancouver Coastal Health (297), making up 59% of all such deaths in the first six months of 2022.
In Victoria, 80 people have died between January and the end of June this year making it the third-highest death toll in the province, behind only Vancouver and Surrey.
The current numbers are outpacing the number of fatalities from previous years. Illicit drug toxicity is the leading cause of unnatural death in BC and is second only to cancers in terms of years of life lost.
There have been 187 deaths due to toxic drugs in the Island Health region overall.
“My heart goes out to everyone who is grieving. No words can replace these losses,” said BC’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Sheila Malcolmson.