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182 British Columbians died from toxic drugs in April

More than 14,500 people have died since the public health crisis was declared in 2016
Andrew Leavens, front left, and Carl Gladue, front right, carry an empty coffin during a march organized by the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) to mark International Overdose Awareness Day, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

More than 14,500 people in B.C. have died in the eight years since the province declared a public health crisis due to toxic drugs, with 182 of those deaths in April 2024.

The BC Coroners Service released the latest data – for the first four months of the year – on Thursday, June 6. Since Jan. 1, 2024, 763 people have died from toxic drugs. 

In April 2024, toxic drugs continue to lead to about six deaths per day.  

It's a 24-per-cent decrease from April 2023, the coroners service says, but "the risk posed by unregulated drug supply remains very high."

About half of the deaths in April were of people between the ages of 30 and 49, while seven-in-10 deaths were male. However, the death rate for women has nearly doubled in 2024 to 23 deaths per 100,000 from 13 per 100,000 in 2020.

April marked eight years since the province declared a toxic drug crisis in 2016, leading to at least 14,582 deaths. Fentanyl continues to be the primary driver, with the drug detected in 82 per cent of toxicological test results.  

The coroners service says unregulated drug toxicity is the leading cause of death for people in B.C. aged 10 to 59. It accounts for more deaths an suicides, accidents and natural diseases combined. 

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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