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

Air ambulance called to scene after report of shots fired in Abbotsford

Incident Monday afternoon in the area of Ross and Simpson roads

Annual Realtors Care Blanket Drive set to begin

Several drop-off locations in Abbotsford for campaign running Nov. 13 to 20

Forum at UFV examines the classic novel Dr. Zhivago

Manuscript by Boris Pasternak was first published in 1957

‘Weird Al’ brings Strings Attached tour to Abbotsford next summer

Legendary musical satirist performs with full symphony orchestra

VIDEOS & SLIDESHOW: Abbotsford Remembrance Day 2018

Local highlights from Nov. 11 ceremonies

Surging Rangers beat visiting Canucks 2-1

Goalie Lundqvist ties Plante on all-time wins list

Calgary 2026 leader expects close vote in Winter Games plebiscite

Residents to choose in a non-binding vote on Tuesday whether they want city to bid on 2026 Olympics

VIDEO: Newcomer kids see first Canadian snowfall

Children arrived in Canada with their mother and two siblings last week from Eritrea

Feds dropped ball with WWI anniversary tributes: historians

Wrote one historian: ‘Other than the Vimy Ridge celebration … I think they have done a very bad job’

Sides ‘far apart’ in Canada Post talks despite mediation, says union

The lack of a breakthrough means rotating strikes will resume Tuesday

Feds’ appeal of solitary confinement decision in B.C. to be heard

Judge ruled in January that indefinite such confinement is unconstitutional, causes permanent harm

Touching note left on Lower Mainland veteran’s windshield

A veteran is hoping the writers of a note know how much he was touched by their kind words.

B.C. health care payroll tax approved, takes effect Jan. 1

Employers calculating cost, including property taxes increases

Most Read