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Illicit drug deaths jump in March: BC Coroners Service report

The BC Coroners Service is reporting a spike in illicit drug toxicity deaths.

Key findings of these drug death reports to the end of March 2020 include:

  • In March, there were 113 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths. Exceeding 100 deaths in a month has not occurred since March 2019. These 113 deaths represent a three percent decrease in the number of deaths seen in March 2019. This is a 61 percent jump from the number of deaths in February 2020.
  • Compared to the January and February 2020 average, there was an increase in March in every health authority, notably in Fraser (91 percent increase) and Island health (80 percent increase). 
  • The March 2019 average (117) was also higher than the January and February 2019 average (89).
  • To date, males accounted for 76 percent of deaths in 2020,  similar to 2019 with 76 percent, and slightly lower than in 2018 with 80 percent.
  • In 2020, 73 percent of those dying were aged 19 to 49. In 2019 and 2018, 68 percent were in this age range.
  • By health authority, Northern Health has the highest rate of illicit drug toxicity deaths, followed by Interior Health in 2020.
  • From 2018 to March 2020, the rates of illicit drug toxicity deaths are highest in Hope, Fort Nelson, North Thompson, Lillooet and Arrow Lakes.
  • No deaths have been reported at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites.
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