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

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

Heffernan to be acclaimed as Abbotsford Liberal candidate

Author and Jati Sidhu assistant to face-off against Ed Fast

Man charged with robbery of Abbotsford bank has multiple convictions

Mitchell Mousseau, 48, turned himself in to police on Aug. 11

NBA talent coaching at BC Bounce camp in Abbotsford

Former Dallas Mavericks guard Kyle Collinsworth coming to town

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

Young balance-bikers race in B.C.’s inaugural Strider Cup

The course has several obstacles including ‘Mount Scary’ and the ‘Noodle Monster’

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Maple Ridge’s first retail cannabis store opens Monday

Spiritleaf is just the second private pot shop in the Fraser Valley

Most Read