Nearly six people per day died on average from an illicit drug overdose in BC during October.
According to data released by the BC Coroners Service, 179 suspected overdose fatalities occurred province-wide.
Northern Health saw 15 toxic drug deaths in October, four of them took place in Prince George.
So far this year, Northern Health has seen 143 fatalities with 60 of them in PG.
In addition, 2022 has been the deadliest year for toxic drug deaths in Prince George, surpassing its previous record-high of 59 set back in 2020.
PG has the seventh-highest number of overdose deaths by city, trailing only Vancouver (453), Surrey (188), Greater Victoria (131), Abbotsford (75), Kamloops (74), and Kelowna (71).
Despite recording the fewest number of overdose deaths among all the health authorities, Northern Health still has the highest drug toxicity death rate at 56.1 per 100,000 people.
Since January 2021, our health authority documented 298 substance-related deaths equating to 13.5 per month – outpacing the Greater Victoria area, which only saw 270 fatalities over the same time period.
In terms of the Health Service Delivery Area, the Northern Interior, which includes PG-Quesnel-Burns Lake and the Robson Valley has the third-highest drug toxicity death rate of 60.4– only Vancouver (74.4) and Northwest (67.7) ranked higher.
The Coroners Service noted 70% of those dying so far in 2022 are between the ages of 30 and 59.
Furthermore, the public health emergency is taking its toll on older adults. For the fourth consecutive month, residents in the 50-59 demographic tallied the most overdose deaths by age group in BC at 440.
This demographic also has the second highest age-specific drug toxicity death rate at 74.6 – only those in the 40-49 age range ranked higher at 76.1.
Between July 2020 and August 2022, etizolam was found in 38% of suspected overdose deaths in BC. Etizolam is a benzodiazepine analogue and non-opioid sedative that does not respond to naloxone.
1,827 people have passed away province-wide this year. No deaths have been reported at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites.