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

BC Housing to host information meeting on application process for 19th Street affordable housing

The meeting will take place Wed., July 24, at 6 p.m. at the GFSS auditorium

Grand Forks council denies pot shop for Weeds Glass & Gifts

The company owns two buildings in the city and is currently renting one to a competitor

PLACE NAMES: Grand Forks neighbourhoods, Part 2

No nuts were grown in Almond Gardens

Warming centre has until July 31 to vacate 7500 Donaldson Dr.

The landlord of the building sent a letter to operators earlier in July

Christina Lake homecoming welcomes all to the party

Tenth annual homecoming celebrates founders, volunteers and lakers

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Latest plan is to fly trapped fish by helicopter over Big Bar slide

Multi-pronged plan set in motion to freesalmon blocked by landslide in the Fraser River

Family of missing B.C. senior with dementia frustrated with situation, heartened by community support

Nine days since Grace was last seen the question remains: ‘How can an 86-year-old just disappear?’

B.C. removes personal limits for bringing home out-of-province alcohol

Previous relgulations placed limits on the amount of liquor that B.C. residents could bring home

Unsealed record suggests U.S. man convicted of murdering Vancouver Island couple left DNA on zip tie in 1987

William Talbott is set to be sentenced Wednesday in the murders of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy

Haircut regulation inspires challenge around gender identity

VIDEO: Bystander training gains traction as tool to prevent sexual harassment, violence

Julia Gartley was sexually assaulted after an event, and no one stepped in to help

Two brands of ice cream sandwiches recalled due to presence of metal

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a recall on Iceberg and Originale Augustin brands

Most Read