The BC Coroners Service (BCCS) said over 198 residents across the province lost their lives to toxic drugs in July, including nine in the Kootenays.
According to the report, six people died from drug poisoning in the East Kootenay, and three people lost their lives in the Kootenay Boundary region.
“I am saddened to once again report that British Columbia’s toxic drug crisis shows no signs of abating,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner. “We are continuing to experience record numbers of deaths provincewide because of the toxic drug supply. The unregulated illicit market is highly unpredictable and continues to put thousands of lives at risk each month. Despite recommendations for the urgent expansion of a safer drug supply, very few have access to a stable, lower-risk alternative.”
BCCS officials said 1,455 people have died from toxic drugs from January to July 2023, with a death rate of 46.2 per 100,000 residents.
“Unregulated drug toxicity is the leading cause of death in British Columbia for persons aged 10 to 59, accounting for more deaths than homicides, suicides, accidents and natural disease combined,” said BCCS officials. “The lives of at least 12,739 British Columbians have been lost to unregulated drugs since the public health emergency was first declared in April 2016.”
“In just two days, we’ll recognize International Overdose Awareness Day,” Lapointe said. “This most sombre of occasions is an important opportunity to recognize all our family members, friends, colleagues and neighbours who have been lost to unregulated drugs. While we honour their memory and grieve alongside their loved ones, we must urge decision-makers to do more to stop these preventable deaths from occurring. The critical risks and losses of life resulting from this public health emergency deserve an urgent response. We must not accept the continued loss of six lives each and every day.”