B.C. has set yet another grim milestone in the ongoing opioid overdose crisis.
According to the latest numbers from the BC Coroners Service, more people have already died of suspected overdoses this year than in all of 2016.
Coroners Service Spokesperson Andy Watson said the data shows a contaminated drug supply is continuing to put drug users at risk.
“This isn’t just a problem that’s happening in high risk areas. This is a problem that’s happening at private homes, it’s happening in hotel rooms, and it’s affecting all walks of life. And I think the message is no drug supply is safe.”
LISTEN: Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe discusses the latest overdose numbers
The information comes in the Coroners Service’s August statistical update, which found 1,013 people have died as a result of a suspected drug overdose this year.
That’s up from the 982 people who died of overdoses in all of 2016, and the 547 who had died by this point last year.
The Coroners Service said 113 people died in August alone, a 79 per cent jump over the same month last year.
Fentanyl appears to be driving the surge.
The report found that more than 80 per cent of those who died had fentanyl in their system, up from 67 per cent last year.
WATCH: Coverage of B.C.’s overdose crisis on Globalnews.ca
The number of overdose deaths were fentanyl was not detected has remained stable since 2011, the report found.
Illicit drug overdoses now clearly lead causes of unnatural death in B.C., far ahead of suicides, car accidents, and homicides.
Adult men continue to make up the vast majority of overdose cases, with 82 per cent of cases being men and 91 per cent among people between the ages of 19 and 59.
“We are seeing an overwhelming volume of deaths indoors. About half of the deaths are occurring in private residences,” Watson said.
“So, don’t use alone, use in the company of someone who can call for help, or better yet, use at a supervised consumption site or drug overdose prevention site.”
Nearly nine out of 10 overdose deaths happened indoors, according to the data.
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Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy says the numbers are heartbreaking.
“Every single one of the people who has died was loved by family and friends.”
She says $322 Million pledged by the government to battle the opioid crisis will be used for treatment, as well as front-line and support services.
“We will be opening more safe consumption sites across the province in the coming weeks and months,” she says.
“We absolutely have to save lives in order for us to be able to offer people treatment, and put them on the pathway to hope and to recovery.”
There were no deaths in supervised consumption sites or overdose prevention sites.
With files from Michelle Morton