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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New figures show Canadian housing prices outpacing those in other developed countries. (Black Press Media file photo)
Canadian housing prices fastest rising in the world

Relative to 2000, housing prices have risen by a factor of more than 2.5

Victoria’s economy is expected to bounce back fairly easily, according to a new report from BMO Capital Markets released April 15. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria in good position to bounce back post-pandemic, says BMO

City’s smaller size, lower COVID-19 caseload and diverse industry base bode well

Three new flight exposures have been reported departing from or arriving at the Victoria International Airport between April 7 and 11. (File photo/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Three flight exposures reported at Victoria International Airport

One flight on April 7 and two on April 11 had confirmed cases of COVID-19 onboard

A case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at David Cameron Elementary School. People may have been exposed on April 14 to 16. (Black Press Media file photo)
COVID-19 exposure confirmed at Colwood elementary school

Exposure at Esquimalt’s Ecole Victor-Brodeur also confirmed

According to Statistics Canada, the unemployment rate in Greater Victoria rose to 5.7 per cent in March 2021, an increase of 0.8 per cent compared to February 2021. But the local unemployment rate remains the among the lowest in Canada. (Black Press Media File)
Greater Victoria’s unemployment rate rises to 5.7 per cent

The increase marks a reversal from recent months, but local economy among the strongest in Canada

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
National fitness group condemns unlicensed Kelowna gym’s anti-vaccine policy

The Fitness Industry Council of Canada says Flow Academy is shining a negative light on the industry

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Nothing stopping provinces from offering AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults: Hajdu

Health Canada has licensed the AstraZeneca shot for use in people over the age of 18

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Most Read