British Columbia

Illicit drugs including fentanyl killing more people in B.C.

The BC Coroners Service says 371 deaths resulted from illicit drugs in the first half of 2016, up 74.2 per cent from same time last year.

The BC Coroners Service says 371 deaths resulted from illicit drugs in the first half of 2016

First responders in Surrey work to revive a man who has suffered a suspected fentanyl overdose and collapsed on the floor of a McDonald's restaurant in Oct. 2015 (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

New numbers from the BC Coroners Service show the shocking rise in deaths from illicit drugs in the province has continued through the first half of 2016, with approximately 60 per cent of the deaths involving fentanyl.

From Jan. 1 to June 30, there were 371 illegal drug overdose deaths in B.C. That's an increase of 74.2 per cent from the same period in 2015.

The Coroners Service reports that the number of fatalities involving fentanyl either alone or in combination with other drugs has risen 31 per cent since 2015.

Statistics show the fentanyl-related deaths are now taking place all over the province, according to the Coroners Service. In previous years, fentanyl-related deaths were concentrated around the Lower Mainland. 

"The BC Coroners Service continues to work with health, community and law enforcement agencies to try to find all ways possible to reduce this unacceptably high death toll," said officials in a released statement.

Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe urges anyone involved in an overdose situation to immediately call 911 to prevent more deaths from illicit drugs. 

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