UPDATED: More than 130 people in B.C. died of illicit drug overdoses in July

BC Coroners Service says that’s an average of four deaths per day

There were 134 overdose deaths due to illicit drug overdoses in July, as the latest data from the BC Coroners Service show how volatile the opioid crisis can be.

The deaths mark a 12-per-cent increase over the same month last year, and a 25-per-cent uptick from June. It equates to four deaths per day.

The highest numbers of deaths – about 35 – were recorded in July’s income assistance week.

Since 2009, 40 per cent more people have died on what many call Welfare Wednesday and the days that follow, B.C. Centre for Substance Use research scientist Lindsey Richardson told Black Press Media.

“What we know is that when people have more money, they spend more, and that’s for everyone,” she said.

Richardson, who’s also an associate sociology professor at UBC, has been conducting a study on what would happen if the province were to split the one income assistant cheque into two every month, or not making the payments one universal day province-wide.

“One of the things unique to substance use is that while there is an individual effect everyone has when they get paid, there’s also a social effect. Substance use often has social cues that prompt people to use more than they otherwise would.”

Factors being taken into account are people’s reliance on the monthly cheque to pay rent, pay back their drug dealers and other bills.

The experiment, which involves about 100 people, is in its third year. Data won’t be conclusive until early next year.

Downward trend brings slim hope

July’s overdose death toll followed a four-month downward trend. Each month saw a slight relief compared to the same month in 2017.

Richardson said British Columbians is trying to hang on to any bit of good news.

“If we have a good month or two, it’s encouraging. But I think we can’t lose the forest for the trees here,” she said. “Rates might be decreasing month over month, but the rates overall are higher than they are for 2017.”

The three cities to see the most deaths were Vancouver, with 231 so far this year, Surrey with 125, and Victoria with 56.

Overdose deaths by city
Infogram

“In terms of people thinking it’s just a problem on the Downtown Eastside, the coroner’s data is province-wide,” she added.

“People might be tired about hearing about it, and they might not want another news story about how awful the situation is. We’re really talking about people’s lives right now.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Castlegar’s Waterline property purchased; owners to protect it for rock climbers

New owners plan to subdivide, sell bluffs to recreational climbing group

Grand Forks daycare now part of universal childcare program

The spaces will now cost a maximum of $200 per month.

Josie Hotel will be ready on opening day, says management

West Kootenay’s first ski-in, ski-out boutique hotel to open this month

Letter: City hall flag needs to be replaced

Legion member Sandra Doody said the City Hall flag is embarassing.

Children’s books needed for Christmas hampers

Considering donating some books this Christmas.

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Federal fall update expected to offer more support for struggling news industry

Ottawa committed $50 million over five years for local journalism in ‘underserved communities’ last budget

VIDEO: Stan Lee leaves posthumous message for his fans

Marvel Comics’ co-creator died on Monday at the age of 95

Daughter searching for father last seen in Nelson

Johnson’s daughter, Chandra Machin, is searching for her father

$136M in transit funding coming to B.C.

The announcement was made at the BC Transit yard in Langford on Friday morning

Ottawa apologizes to Japanese family in B.C. after chopping historic cherry trees

Plaque installed in Prince Rupert to honour the memory of Shotaro Shimizu

Two B.C. police officers, held in Cuba for months, cleared of sex assault allegations

Port Moody Const. Jordan Long and Vancouver Const. Mark Simms have been in Cuba since March

Sunrise ceremony at B.C. legislature honours Louis Riel

Nov. 16 marks the 133rd anniversary of the Métis leader’s death

California wildfire death toll hits 63

Sheriff says hundreds still missing in nation’s deadliest wildfire

Most Read