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B.C. Coroners Service: Drug overdose deaths in Okanagan this year at 102

Fentanyl pills are shown in an undated file photo. According to a report from the B.C. Coroners Service, fentanyl found in 84 per cent of drug overdose deaths in 2017 and 2018.
Fentanyl pills are shown in an undated file photo. According to a report from the B.C. Coroners Service, fentanyl found in 84 per cent of drug overdose deaths in 2017 and 2018. The Associated Press

It’s a staggering number: 102 drug overdose deaths, all in the Okanagan, from January 1st to September 30th.

On Wednesday, the B.C. Coroners Service released a 21-page report of drug overdose deaths within the province. Overall, the B.C. Coroners Service (BCS) said there were 1,143 total deaths up to end of September.

In the Okanagan, there were 44 deaths in Kelowna and 20 in Vernon. No statistics were released for Penticton. In Kamloops, 32 people have died from drug overdoses.

According to the BCS, the proportion of illicit drug overdose deaths for which fentanyl was detected (alone or in combination with other drugs) was approximately 84 per cent in 2017 and 2018.

READ MORE: Vancouver Coastal Health buys 2 new drug-checking machines to reduce opioid overdoses

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Provincially, the Interior Health Region had the fourth-highest rate of overdose deaths at 183. The Fraser region had 379 deaths, with Vancouver Coastal having 337 and Vancouver Island at 184. Northern Health had 60.

However, when viewed as overdose deaths per population, Vancouver Coastal had 37.7 deaths per 100,000 people with Interior next at 32.2 deaths per 100,000. Next was Vancouver Island at 30.9.

In September alone, there were 128 deaths, a 38 per cent increase from September 2017. And when viewed by day of the week, Saturday has had the most deaths this year at 182. Thursday and Sunday were next at 175 with Friday at 172. The biggest age group with deaths was the 30 to 39 age group at 27 per cent, followed by the 50 to 59 age group at 24 per cent. The 40 to 49 age group was at 21 per cent.

READ MORE: Fraser Health issues north Surrey drug alert after 12 people overdose in 4 hours

The BCS also said that 86 per cent of illicit drug overdose deaths occurred inside (58 per cent private residences, 28 per cent other inside locations) and 13 per cent occurred outside in vehicles, sidewalks, streets, parks, etc.

The BCS also stated that the top four detected drugs relevant to illicit drug overdose deaths between 2016 and 2018 were fentanyl (77 per cent), cocaine (48 per cent), methamphetamine/amphetamine (32 per cent), and heroin (22 per cent).

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For more on the report, click here.