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New record for illicit overdose deaths in Fraser North region

This comes as B.C. unveils October as its deadliest month in history for overdose deaths by toxic drugs.
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Illicit drugs. | Dan Toulget, Glacier Media

More people have died from drug overdoses in the Tri-Cities' health catchment in 2021 than ever before.

And there's still two months left before the final toll for the year is released by the BC Coroners Service.

Fraser North — which includes Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Anmore, Belcarra, Burnaby, New Westminster, Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge — saw 18 people die from illicit drugs in the month of October.

That's brings the yearly total to 186, six more than the 180 who died last year.

The 18 deaths in October match the number of deaths that took place in July and March of this year. And it's five more than September. May was the deadliest month for illicit drug overdose deaths in Fraser North with 22.

According to the new data released today, at least 201 lives were lost to illicit drugs across B.C. in October, which marks the highest total in one month in the province's history and equates to 6.5 deaths per day. 

Since the start of the year, there have been 1,782 people lost to overdoses in B.C. The total from January to October is the highest number of deaths due to drug toxicity ever recorded in the province in a calendar year. 

A public health emergency into substance-related harms was declared in April 2016. 

"It is heartbreaking that we continue to lose more lives to toxic drugs, and October was particularly tragic with over 200 deaths, the most ever recorded in a month," B.C. mental health and addictions minister Sheila Malcolmson said in a news release. 

"No words can replace a loved one lost. I feel British Columbia's grief and frustration.

Overdose deaths in Fraser North for the past 10 years are as follows: 

  • 2021 = 186
  • 2020 = 180
  • 2019 = 85
  • 2018 = 153
  • 2017 = 148
  • 2016 = 105
  • 2015 = 73
  • 2014 = 51
  • 2013 = 35
  • 2012 = 30
  • 2011 = 25
  • Total = 1,071

"Today is a heart-rending milestone for our province," BC Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe added in the release.

"In the sixth year of this public health emergency, we are experiencing a record loss of life and I know this news will resonate with tremendous sadness amongst the thousands of families who have lost a loved one to this crisis. My thoughts continue to be with every family and community that is grieving the loss of a loved one."

The highest illicit drug toxicity deaths in 2021 by health service delivery area were in Vancouver, Thompson Cariboo, Northwest, North Vancouver Island and Fraser East.

- with files from Jess Balzer, Burnaby NOW

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