British Columbia

B.C. illicit drug overdoses bump up to 120 in March

The BC Coroners Service says an average of 4 people died each day.

Coroners Service says an average of 4 people died each day

Close-up of a needle on the ground.
The latest report from the BC Coroners Service says 120 people died from illicit drug overdoses in March 2017, an increase from 108 similar deaths in February. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

After a slight drop in illicit drug deaths in February, the number of suspected overdose deaths ramped back up in March.

According to the BC Coroners Service, in February, 108 people died in B.C., compared to 120 deaths in March.

"The introduction of illicit fentanyl to the illegal drug market has had devastating results, with literally scores of our community members dying in their homes across the province," said Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe in a written release.

The new numbers show the third highest number of suspected drug overdose deaths ever for a single month, with, on average, almost four deaths per day. Despite the difference in numbers, the March rate is similar to Februarys because there are fewer days in that month.

Overdose deaths:

  • Nov 2016: 128.
  • Dec 2016: 145.
  • Jan 2017: 119.
  • Feb 2017: 108.
  • Mar 2017: 120.
Illicit Drug Overdose Deaths by Month, 2015-2017. (BC Coroners Service)

The BC Coroners Service says most of the victims were between 30 and 49 years old, while males accounted for 82.7 per cent of the suspected illicit drug overdose deaths.

Place of deaths:

  • 56 per cent occurred in private residences.
  • 34 per cent occurred in other inside locations or outside.
  • 10 per cent occurred inside vehicles.

"There were no deaths at surpervised consumption sites or drug overdose prevention sites," said the release.