1000s of lives lost to crisis

UPDATED: 2:11 p.m.

Since 2008, almost 100 people have died in Vernon due to an Illicit drug overdose, according to a recent release from the BC Coroners Service.

Fifty-five of those deaths have taken place from Jan. 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2018.

Kelowna has also seen a huge spike in overdose deaths in the last few years as well.  

Since 2008, 250 people have died due to an Illicit drug overdose in Kelowna, with 168 of those deaths occurring from Jan. 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2018.

Men account for about 80 per cent of the drug overdose deaths, with the majority of the deaths occurring between the 30 to 50 age range.

"It was men in trades, transport or service industries who tended to be at higher risk," said Annette Sharkey, executive director with Social Planning Council for the North Okanagan. "We are very concerned about what we're calling the 'hidden' population, [which are] people who tend to use alone but are not connected to services."

"These would not be folks that would necessarily associate with our street-level population. These are men who are working and housed in communities."

As a province, thousands of people have died since 2008 of an Illicit drug overdose, with more than 3,000 deaths occurring since Jan. 1 2016 to Sept. 30, 2018.

Information on Illicit drug overdose deaths in the Penticton area wasn't released.

-With files from the Canadian Press

ORIGINAL: 1:28 p.m.

The latest figures from the BC Coroners Service show 128 people died of illicit-drug overdoses in September, an eight per cent increase from the previous month.

The latest monthly figure also shows a marked increase in fatalities from a year ago, when 93 people overdosed in the province.

The service says men have accounted for 80 per cent of the 1,143 deaths so far this year, with the opioid fentanyl accounting for the vast majority of them.

Cocaine and methamphetamine also figured prominently in the number of illicit-drug deaths since 2016.

Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria have experienced the highest number of deaths this year.

Vancouver city council has voted to support newly elected Mayor Kennedy Stewart in appointing an opioid emergency task force to review the factors driving opioid dependency and to advise council on possible interventions.

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