Deadliest month yet: Overdose killed 26 Okanagan residents in July

Deadliest overdose month

Like the rest of the province, toxic drugs are killing people at an unprecedented pace in the Okanagan.

Twenty-six people died of drug overdose in the Okanagan health service area in July, the deadliest month ever for the region.

The deadliest month comes within the worst year ever for the crisis as the fatal overdose rate in the area climbs to 47 per 100,000 this year. Ten years ago, the rate was 4.6 per 100,000.

The Okanagan health service area includes the entire valley and Similkameen.

Across B.C., 192 people died in July, representing a 31 per cent increase in the number of deaths recorded in June 2022, equating to about 6.2 deaths per day.

Nearly 1,300 deaths due to toxic drugs have been reported to the BC Coroners Service between January and July, a record number for the first seven months of a calendar year.

"Families and communities across the province are continuing to suffer the sudden and tragic deaths of loved ones due to toxic drugs," said Lapointe.

"Whether they are chronically substance-dependent or using only occasionally, all of those who access the illicit drug market are vulnerable to serious harms. The subject-matter experts on the recent death review panel urgently recommended significant expansion of safer supply in communities throughout the province in order to reduce the devastation caused by this public-health crisis."

Seven people died in July in the Thompson-Cariboo health service area.

Broken down by municipality, 51 people have been killed by toxic drugs in Kelowna this year, 50 in Kamloops and 27 in Vernon. Data is not available for Penticton.

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