New West sees steep rise in drug overdose deaths

B.C. experienced another record year for drug overdose deaths in 2018 – with New Westminster seeing its number rise.

New West had 34 drug overdose deaths - up from 25 in 2017.

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Overall in B.C. in 2018, there were 1,489 suspected illicit drug overdose deaths, compared with 1,487 in 2017.

By the numbers, most deaths involve males using alone in private residences.

In 2018, 71% of people those were aged 30 to 59. Males accounted for 80% of all suspected overdose deaths.

Overdose rates are consistently higher in welfare weeks.

The three cities with the highest number of illicit drug overdose deaths in 2018 were Vancouver with 382 (up from 376), Surrey (210, up from 178) and Victoria (94 - no change).

Kamloops saw a significant jump, from 38 deaths in 2017 to 48 last year. Prince George’s count almost doubled, going from 24 deaths to 46. New Westminster also saw an increase from 25 to 34.

The rates for other communities were:

  • Kamloops: 48, up from 38;
  • Chilliwack: 35, up from 22;
  • Kelowna: 55, down from 75;
  • Burnaby – 43, down from 44; and
  • Langley – 29, down from 36.

- With additional reporting by Jeremy Hainsworth, Glacier Syndicated

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