The BC Coroners Service’s latest data shows that unregulated drug deaths decreased have decreased year over year, but nearly six people died each day in September 2023.
Released Wednesday (Nov. 1), the BC Coroners Service says there were 175 suspected unregulated drug deaths in September 2023, which is about a 10-per-cent decrease from September 2022 when there 194 deaths. It was also a two-per-cent decrease from August 2023 when there were 178 deaths.
However, the service says there was still an average of nearly six unregulated drug deaths per day.
So far this year, there have been 1,836 deaths related to the toxic drugs crisis. Sixty-nine per cent of those dying were between the ages of 30 and 58, while 78 per cent were male.
Vancouver, Surrey and Greater Victoria have experience the highest number of unregulated drug deaths this year.
Northern Health, however, reported the highest death rates with 62 deaths per 100,000 people, followed by Vancouver Coastal at 55. The overall rate in B.C. is 45 deaths per 100,000.
The latest data comes as the BC Coroners Service death review panel released a report Wednesday calling on the province to expand access to safer supply by removing the requirement for a doctor’s prescription. But Mental Health and Addictions Minister Jennifer Whiteside said that’s out of the question.
Panel chair Michael Egilson said it is estimated that as many as 225,000 British Columbians remain at risk of unregulated drug injury or death.
– With files from Jane Skyrpnek