August 16, 2019 1:44 pm
Updated: August 16, 2019 5:02 pm

June was the lowest month for fatal overdoses in B.C. since Sept. 2016

A paramedic tends to an overdose patient in the St. Paul’s Hospital ambulance bay

Simon Little / Global News
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There may finally be a bright spot in the fight to stem the tide of overdose deaths in British Columbia.

Statistics on illicit drug deaths in June released by the BC Coroners Service on Friday show a significant drop in fatalities over June of last year.

READ MORE: Drug deaths in B.C. continue to fall, but 3 people are still dying every day: coroner report

According to the service, there were 73 suspected illicit drug deaths in June 2019, the fewest of any month since September 2016. That number is down 35 per cent from June 2018, and down 15 per cent from May of this year.

For the first six months of the year, the service reported 538 suspected drug deaths, down about 30 per cent from the first six months of 2018.

B.C. overdose deaths per 100,000 population, 1993-present.

BC Coroners Service

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“We still are higher proportionately than other jurisdictions in Canada, but it is reassuring to see the number on the decline,” said BC Coroners Service spokesperson Andy Watson.

“We do continue to see opportunities for some of these deaths to be prevented. People who are choosing to use alone are really risking their life because we know the drug supply in this province is toxic.”

Fentanyl remains the driver of the grim statistics, and was responsible for four out of five suspected fatal overdoses in 2018 and 2019, according to the coroners service.

READ MORE: Overdose deaths in B.C. declined in first 3 months of 2019, but carfentanil on the rise

It added that deaths attributed to carfentanil, which is 100 times more toxic than fentanyl, had dropped after a worrying spike in deaths earlier this year.

In March, 32 deaths were attributed to the more powerful opioid, while in May that figure dropped to 13 and in June to just four.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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