Emergency crews responding to a drug overdose in Surrey. (Photo: Now-Leader file)

Surrey overdose death toll jumps to 174 in 2017

That’s up from 122 drug overdose deaths in Surrey in 2016, and 76 in 2015

According to data released by the B.C. Coroners Service today, 174 people died of drug overdose in Surrey last year.

That’s up from 122 in 2016, 76 in 2015, 44 in 2014 and 36 in 2013.

The only city in B.C. with a higher overdose death toll than Surrey was Vancouver, which saw 348 fatalities last year.

Province-wide, 1,422 people died of overdose last year, which is 43 per cent higher than the 993 deaths in 2016.

The powerful opioid fentanyl was detected in approximately 81 per cent of the deaths in B.C. in 2017, up from 67 per cent in 2016.

In Surrey, 139 people died of fentanyl-related drug overdoses last year, up from 75 in 2016, 11 in 2015 and 8 in 2014.

See more: More than 1,400 people in B.C. died of drug overdoses in 2017

See also: ‘Urgent care’ mental health and addiction centre announced for Surrey

Meantime, the Fraser Health region saw the highest number of drug deaths with fentanyl detected (377), followed by Vancouver Coastal Health with 337 and Interior Health with 200.

Across B.C., the coroner reports that almost nine out of 10 deaths happened indoors, including more than half in private residences, and approximately four out of five who died were male.

Not a single death occurred at any supervised consumption site in B.C.

See also: Zero deaths, 20,000 visits to Surrey’s safe injection site since opening

See also: VIDEO: Surrey woman, 63, pricked by used needle

“As the coroners’ data show all too clearly, we are still in the midst of a persistent and continuing epidemic of unintentional poisoning deaths,” said provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall. “Through heroic and unprecedented actions, responders on the front lines are daily saving hundreds of lives. But hundreds more are still dying, most often alone and with no-one nearby to act when things go wrong. We are going to need to think more broadly, and further out of our comfort zone, to end these tragic losses.”

The province declared a public health emergency in 2016 because of an unprecedented number of people who have died from an illicit drug overdose.

See also: B.C. hits record number of illicit drug overdose deaths : coroner



amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

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