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169 British Columbians killed from toxic drug supply in August: Coroner

Number a small decrease from 192 deaths in July
Paramedics respond to a call as Vancouver city councillor Jean Swanson attends a march on International Overdose Awareness Day, in Vancouver, on August 31, 2021. In August 2022, the BC Coroner Service says 169 British Columbians died to the toxic drug supply. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Another 169 British Columbians died as a result of the toxic drug supply in August.

The BC Coroners Service says the preliminary findings amount to about 5.5 people killed every single day.

The number represents a 12 per cent decrease from the month before, and a 14 per cent decrease from August 2021. For the entire year, however, 2022 has seen almost the exact same number of deaths in its first eight months as last year, at 1,468 compared to 1,469.

Fatal illicit drug overdoses continue to be by far the most common cause of unnatural death in B.C., occurring about four times as often as suicides and eight times as often as fatal car crashes. Deaths by homicide or prescription drugs occur even less frequently.

In August, three people killed by toxic drugs were under the age of 19. Another 26 were aged 19 to 29, 36 were in their 30s, 41 were in their 40s, 44 were in their 50s and 19 were in their 60s. The BC Coroners Service says the proportion of deaths among those aged 50-plus continues to rise year over year.

The largest number of people died in Fraser Health, where 50 deaths have been confirmed, followed by 44 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 34 in Interior Health, 29 in Island Health and 12 in Northern Health. Broken down further:

  • 39 people died in Vancouver
  • 20 people died in Fraser South
  • 18 people died in Thompson Cariboo
  • 15 people died in each Fraser East and Fraser North
  • 14 people died in Central Vancouver Island
  • 13 people died in South Vancouver Island
  • nine people died in the Okanagan
  • eight people died in Northern Interior
  • six people died in Kootenay Boundary
  • three people died in each Northwest and North Shore/Coast Garibaldi
  • two people died in each North Vancouver Island and Richmond
  • one person died in each East Kootenay and Northeast

The highest rates of deaths per 100,000 people throughout 2022 have been in Vancouver at 72, the Northwest at 63.5, Thompson Cariboo at 62.1 and Northern Interior at 57.1. The lowest rates have been in North Shore/Coast Garibaldi at 15, and East Kootenay and Richmond at 15.5 each. Overall, the rate in B.C. is 42 deaths per 100,000 people this year.

Fentanyl has been present in about 81 per cent of deaths this year. Carfentanil was detected in 79 of them.

The BC Coroners Service says no deaths have been reported at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites.

READ ALSO: Lack of safe supply and evidence-based care at the core of B.C. drug deaths: report


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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media after starting as a community reporter in Greater Victoria.
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