Drug deaths in B.C. continue to fall, but 3 people are still dying every day: coroner report

The number of fatal overdoses in B.C. has gone down by more than a quarter in the first five months of 2019 compared to last year, according to a new report.

But the same report from the BC Coroners Service released Thursday said fentanyl continues to account for a majority of illicit drug deaths.

The report said there were 462 illicit drug toxicity deaths between January and the end of May, compared to 651 over the same period in 2018.

WATCH: (Aired May 15) Illicit drug deaths down, but totals still staggering

April and May also saw impressive decreases with 86 and 84 deaths, respectively, down from 137 and 116 for the same months last year.

“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,” the coroner said in a statement.


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Overall, the coroner said the monthly average for 2019 up to this point was 92 deaths per month, which marks a one-third drop from 2018’s average of 130 deaths per month over the same five-month period.

Despite the overall totals dropping, they still represent roughly three deaths a day, which is consistent with data released by the coroner in May of this year.

More bad news can be found in the number of drug deaths where fentanyl was detected, which stayed relatively steady compared to last year.


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The deadly drug was detected in 83 per cent of all drug deaths in the first five months, compared to 87 per cent for the same period in 2018 — marking just a four per cent drop.

In May 2019, fentanyl accounted for 58 deaths, while April saw 67.

The coroner also found carfentanyl to be a growing concern, being detected in more drug deaths this year than last year.

WATCH: (Aired April 24) B.C.’s top doctor calls for decriminalization of possession of street drugs

So far in 2019, carfentantyl was detected in 102 of the 383 fentanyl-related deaths between January and May.

That stands in stark contrast to the entirety of 2018, when there were only 35 carfentanyl-related deaths.

Meanwhile, the report continues to highlight the number of people using drugs in their private homes, which accounted for more than half of all drug deaths in 2019 so far.

Almost 90 per cent of all deaths happened indoors, the report added, while none were reported at supervised consumption sites or overdose prevention sites.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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