Paramedics revive a man overdosing on Yale Road downtown Chilliwack in June 2017. (Paul Henderson/ Progress file)

Chilliwack drug overdose deaths in 2018 already surpass 2017

As of September 30 there were 25 fatalities compared to 23 all of last year

Chilliwack saw more illegal drug overdose deaths by the end of September than all of 2017.

Of the 15 top communities for overdose deaths, only Prince George and Chilliwack saw that level of increase, according to third quarter data released Thursday by the BC Coroners Service.

By the end of September there were 25 fatal overdoses in the city up from 23 for all of 2017. In 2016, there were 12, 2015 saw 10. And in the seven years between 2008 and 2014 there were a total of 36, or an average of 5.14 a year.

At the current pace, there could be more than 33 overdose deaths in Chilliwack in 2018. The city is one spot above Langley and one below Nanaimo, and is ranked 10th worst so far this year.

With 128 deaths from illicit drugs in September in B.C., the total for the year hit 1,143, and is on pace to match the 1,458 in 2017.

• READ MORE: B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

The 128 deaths in September represent a 38 per cent increase over the same month in 2017, and an eight per cent increase over August 2018.

Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria are the three cities experiencing the highest number of illicit drug overdoses at 297, 162 and 74, respectively, for the first nine months of 2018.

As for when deaths are occurring, more happen in the days immediately following income assistance payments. Over the past 12 months there were an average of 5.5 illicit drug overdose deaths in the Wednesday to Sunday period following welfare cheques being distributed, compared to 3.7 per day for all other days of the month.

A review of completed cases from 2016-18 indicates that the top four detected drugs relevant to illicit drug overdose deaths were fentanyl (77 per cent), cocaine (48 per cent), methamphetamine/amphetamine (32 per cent), and heroin (22 per cent).

• READ MORE: B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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