179 people in B.C. lost their lives to toxic drugs in October, according to a preliminary report from the BC Coroners Service.
This means at least 1,827 British Columbians have been killed by drug poisoning this year up to the end of last month.
Across B.C., the 179 deaths through the month means an average of 5.8 people died per day in October.
“Despite the efforts of many, this public-health emergency continues to devastate families throughout our province,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner. “The increased toxicity and variability of the illicit drug supply has created an environment where everyone who uses substances is at risk.”
Lapointe notes that this is even more apparent in rural communities.
“This vulnerability is even greater for individuals who live outside the urban centres where the limited number of safer supply programs are currently focused,” said Lapointe.
Locally, one person lost their life in the East Kootenay and two people were killed in the Kootenay Boundary area.
This adds up to 12 in the East Kootenay and 22 in Kootenay Boundary so far this year.
B.C. government officials said drug poisoning continues to be the leading cause of unnatural death in our province.
“This is not a matter of choosing one approach over another,” Lapointe said. “The recommendations from both the Standing Committee on Health and two BC Coroners Service death review panels are clear: we must create a comprehensive continuum of care that supports people with substance-use disorders, and we must improve access to evidence-based options for treatment and recovery. Most importantly, as those reports recommended, it is imperative that access to safer supply is available in all areas of the province.”