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More than five toxic drug deaths per day reported in B.C. throughout April

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Toxic illicit drugs continue to take a toll on the lives of B.C. residents, with at least 161 deaths reported throughout the province in April.

According to B.C. government officials, more people died from toxic drugs in our province than homicides, motor-vehicle incidents, drownings, deaths by suicide and fire-related deaths combined.

“Coroners’ investigations continue to document the volatility and inconsistency of the illicit drug supply in our province,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner. 

“The reality is that every time someone uses drugs purchased from the unregulated market, their life is at risk. Until a safer, regulated supply is widely accessible, I encourage those using drugs to use only in the presence of someone who can provide help and call for medical assistance if that’s required.”

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According to B.C. government officials, the number of deaths in April equates to an average of about 5.4 deaths per day.

The report from the BC Coroners Service showed some changes in the statistics.

Historically, men accounted for nearly 80 per cent of illicit drug deaths but the numbers are shifting, as 26 per cent of deaths in April were women.

Provincial officials said illicit drug toxicity has become the leading cause of unnatural death in the province.

“The drug toxicity death review panel report released earlier this year contains advice focused on urgent measures to reduce the numbers of those dying as a result of drug toxicity in B.C.,” Lapointe said. 

“The panel highlighted access to a safer drug supply as the most critical life-saving need in this crisis, along with a coordinated, goal-driven provincial strategy and a comprehensive continuum of substance-use care.”

Lapointe added that the province is on course to set another record in terms of the death toll resulting from toxic drugs.

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