FILE – An organizer displays a naloxone kit that people can pick up for free as International Overdose Awareness Day training seminar takes place at Centennial Square in Victoria, B.C., on Saturday August 31, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

FILE – An organizer displays a naloxone kit that people can pick up for free as International Overdose Awareness Day training seminar takes place at Centennial Square in Victoria, B.C., on Saturday August 31, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

153 people died of drug overdoses in November in B.C.; deaths climb in seniors

Deaths in older age groups have nearly doubled from 2019

More than 150 British Columbians died in November due to the overdose crisis, according to a report from the BC Coroners Service released Monday (Dec. 21).

The 153 deaths last month represent a seven per cent decrease from October but an 89 per cent increase since November 2019. That equates to just over five people dying each day this month.

According to the report, overdose deaths in people aged 60 and up have been on the rise in recent months, while deaths in those aged 19 to 59 have decreased slightly. In 2019, there were 95 illicit drug deaths in people aged 60 and up; this year, that number is already 175 with December figures yet to come.

The number of illicit drug deaths has risen sharply overall in B.C. In 2019, a total of 984 people died, the lowest since 2015. So far in 2020, there have been 1,548 deaths overall.

Health officials have attributed the spike in deaths to the heightened toxicity of B.C.’s illicit drug supply as a result of the pandemic, which has kept borders largely shut since March. Toxicology results from deaths between April and November suggest that 13 per cent had extreme fentanyl concentrations (greater than 50 migrograms per litre) compared eight per cent from January 2019 to March 2020.

Men continue to die at much higher rates than women, making up 81 per cent of 2020 drug deaths to date. The 293 women who have died so far in 2020 represent a 23 per cent increase from all of 2019, while the 1,255 men who have died so far this year represent a 68 per cent increase from last year.

The highest number of illicit drug toxicity deaths happened in Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions, with 510 and 424 deaths, respectively. The highest death rates were in Northern Health with 44 deaths per 100,000 people, with Vancouver Coastal Health second at 38 per 100,000.

As has typically been the case, the vast majority of deaths (more than 80 per cent) happened indoors. Overall, 55 per cent of fatal overdoses happened in a private residence, 26 per cent happened in other residences (hotels, motels, rooming houses, single room occupancy, shelters, social/supportive housing) and 1.1 per cent took place in public buildings. Just under 15 per cent of deaths occurred outside.

READ MORE: Drug overdoses lead to 5 deaths each day in October; B.C. drug toxicity continues to increase


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

opioid crisisoverdose

Just Posted

Victoria-born, 16-time Grammy winning musician David Foster penned a letter to the Greater Victoria School District May 7 urging them not to cut music programs. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
David Foster joins fight to save music in Greater Victoria School District

‘Music is the great equalizer’ Foster wrote in a letter to the district

‘Nindanikoobijiganag: We are Star People’ by Mississauga Nishnaabe Lucbanin artist Estrella Whetung. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Victoria beadwork exhibit speaks to evolving, enduring nature of Indigenous art

On Beaded Ground features work from West Coast artists and a Cedar Hill Middle School group

A seniors housing complex proposed for Cedar Hill Road in Saanich was supported by council after a public hearing on May 12. (Rendering by Jenson Group Architects)
New 85-unit seniors housing development gets green light from Saanich council

Four-storey rental complex would be located on Cedar Hill Road

Former Victoria HarbourCat and Chicago White Sox player Andrew Vaughn. (Photo courtesy of Chicago White Sox)
Former Victoria HarbourCat hits first MLB home run, adds another two days later

Andrew Vaughn is the first HarbourCat alumni to hit a homer in the majors

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Astra Zeneca vaccine waits for injection in a Feb. 3, 2021 file photo. A Langley man has become the second B.C. resident to suffer a blood clot following an injection. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
B.C. man required emergency surgery after AstraZeneca vaccination

Shaun Mulldoon suffered ‘massive blood clot’ after jab

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

Most Read