Another 198 British Columbians died from toxic drugs in July, according to data released Tuesday by the BC Coroners Service. The death toll rose to 1,455 in the first seven months of the year.
The coroner's service said the 1,455 deaths from January to July were the most ever reported in the first seven months of the year since the province declared a public health emergency over drug poisoning deaths in 2016.
“I am saddened to once again report that British Columbia's drug crisis shows no sign of abating,” said Chief Medical Examiner Lisa Lapointe in an opinion.
That puts the province on track to surpass the 2,383 deaths recorded last year. In those seven years, a total of 12,739 people died from drug overdoses in the province.
“The critical risks and loss of life resulting from this public health emergency warrant an urgent response,” Lapointe said. “We cannot accept that six people continue to lose their lives every day.”
The 198 suspected unregulated drug-related deaths in July 2023 represent a five percent decrease from the number of deaths in July last year when there were 208. However, it's a four percent increase from the previous month, when there were 191 drug-related deaths.
Most deaths occurred in urban centers such as Vancouver, Surrey and Greater Victoria, while other areas such as Central Vancouver Island, North Inland, North West and Greater Nanaimo continue to record a high proportional number of deaths.
According to the BC Coroner's Service, unregulated drug toxicity is the leading cause of death in British Columbia for people ages 10 to 59, causing more deaths than homicides, suicides, accidents and natural diseases combined.
Lapointe and other advocates continue to call for the province to urgently expand access to safe drug supplies.
is friday International Overdose Awareness Daythe world's largest annual campaign to end drug overdoses, remove the stigma of people who have died from unregulated drug poisoning, and recognize the grief of victims' families and friends.