Spike in illicit drug overdose deaths in BC

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Preliminary statistics show the effective painkiller fentanyl was discovered in 83 percent of those deaths from the first 3 months of the season.

During the first quarter of 2018, there have been 391 suspected overdose deaths in the province, on par with the 400 reported through the first three months of previous year, the B.C. Coroners Service says.

It's also a 24 per cent increase compared to March of previous year and a 58 per cent increase over the 102 people who died in February.

Only December 2016 saw more fatal overdoses, with 162. No deaths have been reported at supervised consumption sites, or drug overdose prevention sites. Seventy per cent of those who died were between the ages of 19 and 49, and 82 per cent were males.

The service also said that through the first three months of 2018, there have been 391 suspected illicit drug overdose deaths in B.C., on par with the 400 reported through the first three months of 2017.

While the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal Health Authorities have a higher overall number of suspected deaths from illicit drugs in 2018, Vancouver Island has the second-highest overdose rate.

The vast majority - 90.

The February numbers were a positive sign for chief coroner Lisa Lapointe, who said last month she was happy to see a decline in overdose deaths compared with the 126 people who died in January.

The BC Coroners Service urgently reminds those using any illicit drugs not to use alone.

More than 1,400 British Columbians died due to illicit drug overdose in 2017, 366 in Vancouver.

"Those using chemicals should have somebody nearby trained and equipped Happens", it stated in the discharge.

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