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Toxic drug death toll rises to 21 in Northeast B.C.

Northeast accounts for 15% of 143 deaths reported across northern B.C. this year
 

The number of fatal overdoses from toxic drugs in Northeast B.C. continues to rise.

The BC Coroners Service reports at least 21 deaths in the region through the first 10 months of this year, with three reported in September and two more in October.

The northeast region accounts for 15% of the 143 overdose deaths reported across Northern B.C. so far in 2022.

A majority of deaths in the north have been in the northern interior, with 78 reported. Sixty deaths have been in Prince George alone — a new record for the city.

There have been 44 deaths this year in the northwest region, including at least 15 in Terrace, six in Prince Rupert, and four in Kitimat.

According to the coroners service, the Northern Health region has the highest rates of overdose deaths, at 56 deaths per 100,000 people. 

In the northeast, that rate drops to 34.4 deaths per 100,000.

At least eight deaths have been reported this year in Peace River South and six in the Peace River North health areas between January and August, according to the coroners service.

No information is available for Fort Nelson, and the data does not include the five deaths reported in September and October.

In B.C., there have been 1,827 overdose deaths so far in 2022, with men accounting about 8 out of every 10 deaths. 

The coroners service says fentanyl has been detected in 82% of post-mortem toxicology results in 2022.

It also says that etizolam has been found in 38% of deaths between July 2020 and August 2022, "a benzodiazepine analogue and non-opioid sedative that does not respond to naloxone and creates lifesaving challenges for first responders."

In northern B.C., people are dying from a drug overdose most often in private homes (61%), or other residences such as hotels, rooming houses, shelters, or other supportive housing (20.6%) according to the coroners data.

About 15% are dying outside, either in a vehicle, on the streets, or in other public places.

2022 toxic drug deaths in Northeast B.C.

  • January - 5
  • February - 2
  • March - 1
  • April - 3
  • May - 1
  • June - 2
  • July - 1
  • August - 1
  • September - 3
  • October - 2
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