Hope has had dubious distinction of landing in the top five B.C. communities with the highest rates per person of illicit drug deaths.
The B.C. Coroners Service released a report filled with data ranging back to 2009 this week (Dec. 5). One table lists the ‘Top 15 Illicit Drug Toxicity Death Rates from 2017-2019’. Hope is fifth, at 49.2 deaths per 100,000 people. The actual number is 12 deaths for that time frame.
The top city in the chart is Princeton, which also reported 12 such deaths, but at a rate of 81.3 per 100,000. Grand Forks, Keremeos, and Vancouver Aggregate make up the rest of the top five. Chilliwack, however, did not make the Top 15.
Hope does have the roughly per person rate as the Vancouver Aggregate, which with 980 actual deaths, sits at 49.2 per 100,000.
Hope’s rate of overdose related deaths is on a steady rise. From 2013-2015, it was just 4.1 per 100,000.
The 21-page report included a lot of other interesting data. Despite the common belief that people on the street are those dying from drug overdose, province-wide the majority of people die from overdose inside a home, at 57 per cent, while only 12 per cent die outdoors.
While Hope’s rates are rising, the study shows that the number of opioid overdose deaths are falling provincewide. It also states there have been no deaths reported in supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites.
The report is based on deaths by “street drugs,” described as controlled and illegal drugs: heroin, cocaine, MDMA, methamphetamine, illicit fentanyl etc., as well as medications not prescribed to the decedent but obtained/purchased on the street, from unknown means or where origin of drug not known, and any combinations of the above with prescribed medications.
Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe says while fatalities have decreased, the service knows from their health-care partners that the number of non-fatal overdoses remains high.
She says the decrease in overdose deaths is a promising trend, but the drug supply in the province remains unpredictable and the long-term impact of drug toxicity can be severe.