There were 538 illicit drug overdose deaths in B.C. during the first six months of 2019, including 19 in Kamloops, according to the latest stats from the B.C. Coroners Service.
For comparison, there were 763 deaths provincewide during the first half of 2018 and 832 during the first half of 2017. In Kamloops, 47 people died of an overdose in 2018. For 2016 and 2017, those numbers are 44 and 38, respectively.
According to a report released by the B.C. Coroners Service today (Aug. 16), there were 73 suspected drug toxicity deaths in B.C. last month.
"This is a 35 per cent decrease over the number of deaths that occurred in June 2018 (113) and a 15 per cent decrease over the number of deaths occurring in May 2019 (86)," the report states, noting the deaths in June equate to about 2.4 deaths per day for the month.
The Interior Health Authority has the lowest overdose rate in the province, at 19 deaths per 100,000 individuals. For comparison, Vancouver Coastal is 27.2 deaths 100,000.
The report says 71 per cent of those who have died of a drug overdose death this year were aged 30 to 50, with the majority being males. The hardest-hit townships are Vancouver, Surrey, Victoria and Abbotsford, according to the coroners service.
By local health area, the rates of illicit drug toxicity deaths are highest in Princeton, Merritt, Vancouver, Grand Forks and Hope.
Meanwhile, fentanyl was detected in more than four of every five deaths in 2018 and 2019, according to the document.
The report also shows that deaths linked to carfentanil are on the decline. They peaked in the first four months of this year, with 32 deaths in March. However, in May and June, there were 13 and four, respectively.
The report notes that in 2019, 87 per cent of overdose deaths happened inside (57 per cent in private homes and 30 per cent in other residences, including social and supportive housing, SROs, shelters and hotels), and 12 per cent occurred outside, in vehicles, on sidewalks, streets and parks.
No deaths have been reported at a supervised or drug overdose prevention site.