IH is concerned by Penticton's rate of fatal overdoses as a result of opioid use. The healthy authority has been ramping up its outreach efforts, even implementing the Naloxone Challenge to train businesses and organizations how to administer the lifesaving drug, yet the death rate still increased this year. (File Photo)

April records 176 overdose deaths: B.C. Coroners Service

The B.C. Coroners Service is reporting 176 deaths due to drug toxicity in April, 2021, representing a 10 per cent increase from March, as the overdose crisis continues to claim lives in B.C.

Including April, the province is reporting 680 deaths this year, the highest four-month total since the province began reporting overdose deaths, underscoring the tragic impacts of the drug toxicity crisis.

In addition, the province also reports one overdose death in the East Kootenay, for a total of five this year. Four of those deaths occurred in Cranbrook and one in Kimberley, according to the B.C. Coroners Service, which is now releasing quarterly municipal-level overdose numbers.

In a statement, Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner for the B.C. Coroners Service, said every life lost due to illicit drug toxicity is a ‘profound tragedy.’

“These latest numbers emphasize the toxicity of the illicit drug supply in B.C.,” Lapointe said. “We know that substance use disorder is a complex health issue, and those experiencing it need meaningful and compassionate services and supports. Far too often, we hear from families who have lost a loved one that no help was available despite desperate searches over months or years.

“It is critical that harm reduction services, including safe supply, are accessible where and when people need them, and that recovery services are evidence based and accountable.”

Based on toxicology reports, fentanyl was detected in 86 per cent of deaths attributed to illicit drug toxicity this year,

Sheila Malcolmson, the B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, also released a statement expressing sorrow and pledging government action.


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