The number of illicit drug deaths in BC continues to be a major concern.
The figures for April show the second-highest recorded amount in a single month.
The BC Coroners Service says 136 people died from drug use last month, an average of 4.5 each day, and almost double the April 2016 total of 69.
It brings the year-to-date total to to 488.
Seventy four of the deaths this year have been in the Interior Health Region with 32 in Kelowna and 13 in Kamloops. The figures are not provided for Vernon.
The Coroners Service did not release a new report on the proportion of deaths in which fentanyl was detected, as it is not yet available. It is anticipated that data will be available sometime in June.
“It is of great concern that despite the harm-reduction measures now in place and the public-safety messages issued, many people are still using illicit drugs in private residences where help is not readily available,” says chief coroner Lisa Lapointe. “I strongly urge those using illicit drugs to do so only at a safe consumption site or drug overdose prevention site, if one is accessible. If one of these sites is not accessible, please use only a small amount of the drug initially and only in the presence of someone willing and able to administer naloxone and call 911 if required. The risks associated with all illicit drugs in the province are extreme, and access to emergency medical assistance is essential to prevent fatal consequences.”
The Vancouver Coastal Health Authority has had the highest number (171) of illicit drug-overdose deaths, making up 35% of the total, followed by Fraser Health Authority (145 deaths, 29.7%).
The updated report on illicit-drug deaths can be found at: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/public-safety-and-emergency-services/death-investigation/statistical/illicit-drug.pdf.