Overdose deaths in Vancouver stay steady in September, but officials say number is still too high
The number of people who died from an overdose in Vancouver in September was nearly identical to the number from August, according to new data released by the city.
The city reported Friday that 26 people lost their lives to a suspected overdose last month, one more than the 25 suspected overdose deaths in August as confirmed by BC Coroners Service.
September’s numbers have not been confirmed by the coroner, the city noted, as toxicology reports on the most recent deaths are not yet complete. The data was sent to the city by Vancouver police.
While the city said the numbers over the summer are trending down from last year, it added these most recent numbers are still far too high.
“This crisis is still absolutely on the frontburner for the city, and we’re looking at any and all solutions that can help our health partners drive those numbers down,” deputy city manager Paul Mochrie said.
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Vancouver has seen 256 overdose deaths in the first eight months of 2018, according to the latest data from BC Coroners Service.
July saw the deadliest week of 2018 so far for overdose deaths in the city, after 11 people died in the final week of the month.
Fentanyl continues to play a major role in overdose deaths across the province, with the coroner’s latest data reporting 81 per cent of all deaths up until the end of June saw fentanyl detected.
Mochrie said the city is working on making sure supports are being put in place in current and future social housing projects, noting the vast majority of overdose deaths occur when victims use alone.
A task force has also been launched to confront the crisis as it related to the Indigenous community in Vancouver, particularly those in the Downtown Eastside.
The provincial government has launched a lawsuit against dozens of opioid companies seeking damages for what the NDP says is their role in the overdose crisis.
With files from Richard Zussman and Simon Little
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