Nine fatal overdoses reported in northeast B.C.

There have been 260 people who have died of a drug overdose in B.C. in the first three months of 2020, including nine in northeast B.C.

Four of those deaths were reported in Fort St. John, and the BC Coroners Service reports that rates of illicit drug toxicity deaths in Fort Nelson have been among the highest in the province between 2018 and March 2020, though no specific numbers were provided. There was no data reported for Dawson Creek.

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There have been 22 fatal overdoses in northern B.C. to date, and the Northern Health region has the highest rate of illicit drug toxicity deaths (29 deaths per 100,000), the Coroners Service reported.

Rates of illicit drug toxicity deaths are also highest this year in the northeast, at 49 deaths per 100,000.

The Coroners Service reported 113 overdose deaths in B.C. in March, up from 70 deaths in February and 77 deaths in January.

Not since March of 2019, when 117 overdose deaths were recorded, has B.C. seen more than 100 such deaths in one month.

Through the first quarter of 2020 (January through March), there have been 260 suspected overdose deaths in the province. Through the same three months in 2019, there were 295 overdose deaths.

Fentanyl continues to be a major factor in the deaths, with preliminary data showing the drug was detected (either alone or with other drugs) in the toxicology reports of about 70% of deaths so far this year and 86% of deaths last year.

In northern B.C., the majority of deaths (70%) have happened in private homes. Another 16% happened in other residences, including motels, rooming houses, and shelters, while 10% happened outside, either on the streets, or in places such as vehicles, public parks, and campgrounds.

There have been 10 deaths reported in the northern Interior, including seven in Prince George, and three in the northwest. 

Other data from the BC Coroners Report:

  • To date in 2020, males accounted for 76% of deaths in 2020, similar to 2019 (76%), and slightly lower than in 2018 (80%).

  • To date in 2020, 73% of those dying were ages 19 to 49. In 2019 and 2018, 68% were in this age range.

  • To date in 2020, based on deaths per 100,000 population, Northern Health has the highest rate of suspected overdose deaths, at 29.3, followed by Interior Health, at 23. The Fraser and Island health authorities are lowest, each at 17.9.

  • No deaths have been reported at supervised drug use or drug overdose prevention sites.

  • Of the 260 suspected overdose deaths in B.C. so far this year, 148 have occurred in private residences, 63 have occurred in other residences, 24 have occurred outside, five have occurred in medical facilities, three have occurred in public buildings, two have occurred in public washrooms, two have occurred in prisons or police cells and one has occurred at a workplace. Twelve deaths do not have a place attributed to them.


— with files from Kamloops This Week

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at

© Copyright Alaska Highway News


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