Thompson-Okanagan fatal overdose rate above provincial average

21 local ODs last month

Twenty-one B.C. Southern Interior residents were killed by toxic drugs last month, according to the BC Coroners Service.

Data released Thursday recorded 189 deaths across B.C. in October, a 7% increase from the month prior.

So far this year 81 people have died of overdose in Kelowna (seven in October), 67 in Kamloops (five in October), 39 in Vernon (four in October) and 17 in Penticton (one in October).

Across B.C., the death toll has now eclipsed the 2,000 mark and sits at 2,039, with 343 of those happening in the Interior Health region. October is the 37th straight month of at least 150 deaths provincially.

“More than 13,200 people have died because of poisoned drugs since the crisis was declared in 2016,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, in a statement.

“We recognize the depth of grief these numbers represent, far beyond what any statistics can convey. Nothing will ever replace these people in the hearts of those who love them. Our government continues to work urgently to provide access to effective and compassionate care.”

The provincewide death rate for the year is 45 per 100,000 residents, the highest such number ever recorded.

The Central Okanagan has recorded a death rate this year per 100,000 of 48.2, while Kamloops sits at 74.9, Vernon at 62.6 and Penticton at 48.5.

Illicit fentanyl and its analogues are present in 85% of expedited test results, often in combination with other opioids and/or stimulants, including cocaine and methamphetamine.

The BC Coroners Service says it is watching closely for prescribed safer-supply medications in its testing, with hydromorphone detected in approximately 4% of tests.

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