The latest illicit drug toxicity death data paints a sobering picture in B.C., including Burnaby.
Updated BC Coroners Service overdose death numbers show 159 lives were lost in June of this year due to suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths.
The number marks the second-highest number of deaths ever recorded in the month of June.There were 185 recorded in June of 2020.
The BC Coroners Service says from Janaury of 2021 to June 30, 2021, there have been 1,011 suspected opioid contributed deaths which makes this year the highest ever recorded during the first half of a calendar year and is a 34% increase from January to June of 2020 when there were 757.
So far this year, Burnaby has seen 34 suspected illicit drug overdose deaths. The highest ever for the area was 58 last year.
Deaths since 2011 in Burnaby are as follows:
- 2011 - 10
- 2012 - 10
- 2013 - 13
- 2014 - 11
- 2015 - 15
- 2016 - 40
- 2017 - 44
- 2018 - 48
- 2019 - 29
- 2020 - 58
- 2021 to date: 34
- Ten year total to date: 312
"The deaths of more than 1,000 British Columbians in the first six months of 2021 is a tragic reminder that the toxic illicit drug supply remains a significant ongoing threat to public health and safety in communities throughout our province," BC Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe said in a news release.
"The data released today highlights the immensity of this public health emergency and the need for a wide-scale response. This includes removing barriers to safe supply, ensuring timely access to evidence-based affordable treatment and providing those experiencing problematic substance use with compassionate and viable options to reduce risks and save lives."
The number of illicit drug toxicity deaths recorded in June this year equals roughly 5.3 deaths per day.
The highest townships with suspected overdose deaths are Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria.