More than 10,000 people in BC have died from toxic drugs since a health emergency was declared in 2016: coroner

In the month of June, more than 140 people died from illicit drug toxicity across BC, the county coroner’s office says, bringing the total number of fatalities this year above 1,000.

The number of deaths from drug toxicity in the first six months of 2022 is the highest ever recorded in that period of a calendar year, according to preliminary data released Tuesday by the BC Coroners Service.

The count also means that more than 10,000 people have now died from toxic drugs in BC since a public health emergency was declared in April 2016.

“These were men, women and youth from all walks of life. They lived in our neighborhoods, worked in our workplaces and played on our sports teams. Some lived ordinary lives, while others faced enormous challenges,” Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe wrote in a statement. a statement.

“They all fell prey to the deadly supply of illegal drugs that are ubiquitous.”

The co-founder of Moms Stop the Harm said Tuesday it’s hard to see the sheer number of deaths continue month after month, over six years in a public health emergency.

After so long, she said, it’s a challenge to hold the attention of the general public.

“Every person who dies leaves just a trace of sadness. I just want people to understand that this tragedy, this dynamic that we’re going through, is aimed at real individuals,” said Leslie McBain, who lost her son on prescription. drug overdose in 2014.

“Every month when these numbers come out… it kind of becomes, ‘Oh, yeah, here comes the coroner’s report. There’s going to be a lot of deaths.’ And I don’t blame people, it’s hard to stay focused on that.

“It’s getting a bit mundane — not for me. Not for all of our members at Moms Stop the Harm and all the people who have lost a loved one.”

16 youth lost this year, report says

According to data released Tuesday, 146 people died in June, compared to 197 in May – a drop of more than 26 percent. The death toll was also 17 percent lower than in the same month last year.

The data showed that fatalities have declined across all age groups, although nearly 75 percent of those who died were between the ages of 30 and 59. Nearly 80 percent of those who died were men.

Sixteen of the people who died this year were under the age of 19. Another 140 were between the ages of 19 and 29, the report said.

“It’s a huge and persistent problem that we see cropping up in my office repeatedly—daily, in fact,” said Jennifer Charlesworth, BC’s Children and Youth Representative.

“The statistics are constantly alarming.”

Charlesworth said some children survived poisoning from poisonous drugs but had a “questionable impact on their well-being” and lasting trauma. She said others end up in government care after losing their parents or guardians to the drug supply.

BC Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe is pictured in Victoria on April 14, 2021. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Lapointe has reiterated the need for a safer drug supply, as many advocates, academics and health experts have done since the health emergency statement in 2016.

“We recognize drug use as a symptom and realize that punishment and stigma will only do more harm,” Lapointe said at a news conference on Tuesday.

“Encouraging compassionate treatment and support is the only way to get British Colombians out of harm’s way and out of this public health crisis.”

According to preliminary post-mortem toxicology tests, the supply of illicit drugs remains extremely volatile. According to the coroners, fentanyl has been found in increasing concentrations.

Etizolam was detected in 39 percent of accelerated tests between July 2020 and June 2022. Etizolam, a benzodiazepine analogue, is a strong sedative whose effects cannot be reversed by naloxone, posing a challenge to rescuers trying to save lives. to rescue.

The coroner noted that the number of deaths in the Northern Health Region rose in June, despite a decline in every other health authority.

Most people continue to die indoors, the report said.

No deaths have been reported when used under supervision or for the prevention of drug overdose. There is no evidence that the prescribed safe delivery contributes to overdose deaths, it added.

The coroner said 2,224 people died from illegal drugs in 2021, making it the deadliest year to date. In the first half of 2022, 1,065 people died.

LISTENING | Moms Stop The Harm co-founder speaks about the need to humanize data:

The early edition9:17BC Coroner Will Reveal The Number Of People Who Have Died From Toxic Illegal Drugs In The Last Six Months

The BC coroner will provide an update on the drug crisis in this province today. We discuss what to expect with someone speaking at the press conference. The co-founder of Moms Stop The Harm joins us, for more.

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