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B.C. chief coroner says province may break record drug deaths in 2022

B.C. is “on pace to lose a record number of our community members” with more of the province’s residents dying from toxic drugs.

According to provincial government officials, 195 B.C. residents lost their lives to overdose in May.

Locally, one person died in the West Kootenay and none died in the East Kootenay throughout May.

“I am saddened to report that we are, once again, on pace to lose a record number of our community members in 2022,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner, BC Coroners Service. “The illicit drug supply in this province continues to be volatile and inconsistent and presents a significant risk to anyone who uses drugs. I strongly urge those purchasing illicit substances to take every available precaution to protect themselves.”

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Officials said drug toxicity has become the leading cause of unnatural death in B.C.

“Every life lost to illicit drugs in our province is a preventable tragedy,” Lapointe said. “Panel members from the Coroners Service Death Review Panel into Illicit Drug Toxicity deaths recommended urgent action to address the terrible loss of life our province continues to experience.”

According to BC Coroners Service officials, about 91 per cent of submitted drug samples contained fentanyl and/or its analogues.

The BC Coroners Service also found that 73 per cent of samples contained another stimulant, 44 per cent had benzodiazepine and 19 per cent contained at least one other opioid.

Between January and May of 2022, 940 British Columbians lost their lives to toxic drugs.

May also marked a significant increase in deaths, following two months of slow decline in March and April.

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