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Nearly 200 people died of toxic drug overdoses in 1st month of 2024

70% of those who died were between 30 and 59 years old
People hold signs during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver on Saturday, August 15, 2020. BC Coroners Service says at least 198 people died of overdoses in the province in January 2024 from toxic, unregulated drugs.. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

BC Coroners Service says at least 198 people died of overdoses in the province in January from toxic, unregulated drugs.

That’s about six people dying per day in B.C., according to the latest data released Thursday (Feb. 29). Of the 198 people who died, seven out of every 10 people were between the ages of 30 and 59.

While no area of the province has been spared by the overdose crisis, BC Coroners Service says the areas with the highest rates of death are the northern Interior, north and central Vancouver Island, Vancouver and the northeast.

The municipalities with the hihgest number of drug deaths in 2024 are Vancouver, Surrey and Nanaimo.

This is the first set of data released by the coroners service for 2024, and it comes after B.C.’s reported its worst year for fatal drug poisonings in the last decade. At least 2,539 people died of unregulated drug deaths in 2023.

READ MORE: 2023 was the worst year for fatal toxic drug poisonings in B.C. history

However, BC Coroners Service says the 198 suspected deaths are a 10-per-cent decrease from the 221 deaths the month prior in December 2023. It’s also a 14-per-cent decrease from the 229 deaths in January 2023.

The Public Safety Ministry adds there is no indication that prescribed safer supply is contributing to unregulated drug deaths. In 2023, hydromorphone was detected in three per cent of overdose deaths that have undergone toxicology testing.

READ MORE: ‘Stigma and fear’ drives pushback against Canada’s safer supply effort: minister

Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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