Fentanyl overdose deaths soar in Fraser region

Coroners say at least 13 have died so far this year from potent narcotic

The B.C. Coroners Service is warning of a spike in fentanyl drug overdose deaths in the Fraser Health region.

It says 13 people died after ingesting the synthetic drug in the Fraser region in the first four months of this year, compared to 12 fentanyl-linked deaths in all of 2013 and just six in 2012.

Four of the confirmed deaths were in Surrey, three were in Langley, three more were in Maple Ridge and two were in Coquitlam.

But regional coroner Liana Wright said those numbers may soon climb.

“We have some pretty strong indications there are more deaths attributed to fentanyl since April 30th and we’re just awaiting confirmation of the toxicology analysis,” she said.

Wright said most of the victims injected or snorted what they believed was either heroin or oxycodone that turned out to be fentanyl.

It’s a potent narcotic that’s more toxic than morphine and is used in hospitals.

“We’re not sure how it’s making its way out into the community or if it’s being produced illicitly,” she said.

Although most victims were chronic addicted drug users, Wright said some could be called recreational users and she cautioned that fentanyl could be deadly on a first use.

Even handling fentanyl is risky as it can be absorbed through the skin or mucous membranes, she added.

Wright said the concentration of deaths in certain cities doesn’t mean that’s where the suspect drugs were purchased.

The coroners service discourages drug use but says those who engage in it should use extreme caution, preferably at a site with medical assistance nearby.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

LETTERS: Speak up for our seniors in long-term care

Jan Coates of Agassiz believes in the power of your voice

Harrison officials carefully monitoring E.coli levels in lagoon

Levels testing unusually high for this time of year, officials say

Chilliwack RCMP heard gunfire en route to suspicous activity

Chilliwack man, 42, sent to hospital after shooting, RCMP have confirmed

Hundreds fill Chilliwack streets for Black Lives Matter march

‘Canada has a problem too,’ reads at least one protester’s sign

IHIT names homicide victim found in the Fraser Canyon this week

Police asking for tips into the suspicious death of 29-year-old Alicia Berg

Trudeau offers $14B to provinces for anti-COVID-19 efforts through rest of year

Making a difference in municipalities is a pricey proposition

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

‘Like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

The artifact is believed to be from the Nesikip period between 7,500 BP to 6,000 BP

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

Run for Water: Abbotsford man raises $100,000 running 100-mile marathon

Kevin Barata ran up and down Ledgeview Trails 32 times, exceeding elevation of Mt. Everest

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Indigenous chief alleges RCMP beat him during arrest that began over expired licence plate

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam calling for independent investigation

Most Read