Homeless in Whalley. (File photo: Now-Leader)

Homeless deaths in Surrey quadruple between 2007 and 2016

Deaths in the city spiked in 2015 from the previous year

Homeless deaths in Surrey quadrupled between 2007 and 2016, according to new data from the BC Coroners Service.

The report, released Thursday (March 21), summarizes the deaths between 2007 and 2016 that were reported to the coroners services and where the deceased met its “definition of homeless.” Cases were included if “no fixed address” was given as the home address, the location was at a homeless shelter or if the “circumstances of death suggested homelessness.”

Vancouver saw the highest number of deaths at 43 in 2016, followed by 17 in Surrey and 16 in Victoria.

In 2007 in Surrey, there were four homeless deaths. That number stayed consistent through to 2009, and then dropped to three deaths in 2010 and dropped again to two deaths in 2011.

From 2011 to 2013, there were two homeless deaths each year. In 2014, the number of deaths rose to five, before spiking to 12 deaths in 2015 and 17 in 2016.

In 2016, 991 people died of an illicit drug overdose, marking the beginning of a steady increase in the number of fatal overdoses linked to fentanyl. On April 14, 2016, the provincial government declared a public health emergency in response to the steadily climbing overdose deaths.

READ ALSO: B.C.’s first public health emergency continues, April 13, 2017

A total of 175 homeless people died across the province in 2016, compared to just 73 the year prior. The data released Thursday includes all cases where no fixed address or permanent address was found, or the circumstances suggested homelessness.

Fifty-three per cent of the people met the criteria for street homelessness and 36 per cent for sheltered homelessness.

In total, 56 per cent of deaths were accidental, 23 per cent were classified as natural and 11 per cent resulted from suicide.

In 2016, 86 per cent of accidental deaths and 53 per cent of all deaths resulted from unintentional drug and/or alcohol poisoning, whereas in previous years (2007 to 2015), alcohol and drug poisoning deaths accounted for 63 per cent of accidental deaths and 34 per cent of all deaths on average, the report states.

READ ALSO: Carfentanil found in 15% of overdose deaths in January, March 19, 2019

READ ALSO: Fentanyl-link overdose deaths soar in B.C., Sept. 7, 2017

Males, according to the report, were more likely than females to meet the criteria for street homelessness. Overall, 85 per cent of those who died were male, while the percentage of females “trended downwards with age.”

From 2007 to 2016 in B.C., there were 55 homeless deaths per year on average, the report states.

The coroners service said the data may be under-reported because of cases where an investigator could not confirm a person’s housing status.

– With files from Ashley Wadhwani

READ ALSO: Nowhere to grieve: How homeless people deal with loss during the opioid crisis

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In 2019, roughly one person died every three days in Surrey due to illicit drug overdoses

123 people died in the city in 2019, down from the previous year

BC Liberals firing at NDP due to fact new Surrey hospital not in budget

But Surrey-Panorama MLA Jinny Sims says business case is needed first

United Nations designates Surrey a ‘Tree City’

Surrey is one of 59 cities in the world to receive the designation

White Rock seeks assistance for park rain damage

City applies for provincial funding following closure of Ruth Johnson Park and ravine

Surrey RCMP looking for missing boy, age 14

Brayden Ritchat, 14, last seen in the 10800-block of 141st Street in Whalley on Feb. 21

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Toffoli scores OT winner as Canucks beat Habs 4-3

Demko makes 37 saves for Vancouver

Private clinics would harm ‘ordinary’ people using public system in B.C.: lawyer

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in 2018 that the government would begin to fine doctors $10,000

B.C. terminates contract with hospice society refusing assisted death

Delta Hospice Society loses hospital service fund of $1.5 million

Child in hospital following fatal crash that killed father, sibling on B.C. highway

The single vehicle crash occured near Kamloops on Highway 5A

‘Die!’: Vernon councillor mailed death threat

This story contains information that might be sensitive to some readers

B.C. landlord can’t serve eviction notice because tenant is in jail

Homeowner baffled at arbitrator decision based on notice of hearing not being served properly

Hidden message connects Castlegar homeowners decades apart

The Rodgers family was surprised when a message fell out of the walls as they were renovating

Most Read