Abbotsford death toll rises as overdose crisis rages on

Three more people died from illicit drugs last month

Fentanyl and other drugs continue to take lives in Abbotsford and across the province.

There were more overdose deaths in Abbotsford in the first nine months of 2016 than there were all last year.

And the 2015 death rate was already several times the average for previous years.

The recently released September figures for the entire province show an opioid crisis, fuelled by the powerful and deadly fentanyl, with no significant signs of slowing.

Three people died from overdoses of illicit drugs in Abbotsford in September, bringing the year total to 26 and surpassing the 2015 total of 25.

In 2014, Abbotsford saw only seven overdose deaths all year and nine the year before that. The average annual deaths from 2007 to 2014 was fewer than eight.

Abbotsford Police Chief Bob Rich recently said the best solution for the epidemic is long-term addiction treatment.

Abbotsford has consistently been one of the worst municipalities in B.C., with only Vancouver, Surrey, Victoria and Kelowna seeing more victims fall this year.

Province-wide, another 59 B.C. residents died last month – up from 49 in August – bringing the total for the year so far to 555. That exceeds the 508 lives lost to overdoses in all of 2015.

Fentanyl continues to be detected in about 61 per cent of fatal drug overdoses, according to the latest statistics released by the B.C. Coroners Service.

The 302 cases in which fentanyl was detected is more than triple the number for the same nine months of 2015.

More overdose deaths occurred in the Fraser Health region – 195 so far in 2016 – than Vancouver Coastal (128), Vancouver Island (107) and the Interior (93).

The top cities were Vancouver (110), Surrey (71), Victoria (44), Kelowna (31), Abbotsford (26), Kamloops (25) and Maple Ridge (22).

A multi-prong response strategy has been underway since the province declared a public health emergency in April and created a dedicated task force in July.

Efforts include making naloxone much more widely available to reverse overdoses in progress.

The strategy also aims to block fentanyl production and distribution, increase harm-reduction options, foster greater public education and increase the number of addiction recovery beds.

– with files from Jeff Nagel

Just Posted

New hospice programs aim eyed for at-home patients and caregivers

Abbotsford Hospice Society set to launch day program for people living at home with terminal illness

Abbotsford Arts Council seeks submissions for 2020 exhibits

Kariton Art Gallery hosts 10 to 12 shows each year

Abbotsford man crafts one-of-a-kind metal sculptures at Green Lake home

‘I am in an office all day and this is my way to get away from all of that’

SLIDESHOW: Symphony in the Park

Free concert at Mill Lake featured Abbotsford’s young orchestra talent

VIDEO: Abbotsford police arrest man suspected of using pepper-spray against another man

Police cruisers collide in pursuit of suspect fleeing on a stolen bicycle

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

U16 B.C. fastpitch team named national champs

Girls went undefeated at national tournament in Calgary

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

Most Read