Data released by the B.C. Coroners Service Sept. 23, 2020 shows that the Okanagan is on pace to record more overdose deaths in 2020 than in 2019. (Jesse Day - Western News)

Data released by the B.C. Coroners Service Sept. 23, 2020 shows that the Okanagan is on pace to record more overdose deaths in 2020 than in 2019. (Jesse Day - Western News)

2020 overdose death toll rises to 73 in the Okanagan

Just under half of the deaths occurred in Kelowna

The Okanagan is on pace to record more overdose deaths in 2020 than in 2019, according to data from the B.C. Coroners Service.

This would be the first year the overdose death toll has risen year-to-year in the Okanagan since the number spiked to 155 in 2017.

READ MORE: First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

A total of 73 people in the Okanagan have died from illicit drug overdoses so far in 2020, compared to 84 in all of 2019.

Thirty-six of the 73 deaths so far in 2020 occurred in Kelowna. That surpasses the city’s total of 33 through the entirety of 2019.

The years of 2017 and 2018 were the worst on record for overdose deaths in the Okanagan with 155 and 129, respectively.

From 2010 to 2016, the Okanagan saw a combined total of 242 overdose fatalities, for an average of 34 per year.

The month of August 2020 saw seven overdose deaths in the Okanagan, down from 13 in July and 14 in June. Three of the seven occurred in Kelowna.

From 2018 to August 2020, there have been 45 overdose fatalities in Penticton, six in Keremeos and seven in Princeton. All three communities rank within the top 15 local health authorities in the province with the highest death rate per 100,000 people in that time frame.

(B.C. Coroners Service)

Across the province, 1,068 people have died from overdoses so far this year. Vancouver has the highest number of total deaths of all townships in 2020 at 259, followed by Surrey’s 130 and Victoria’s 95. Kelowna and Kamloops both have the fourth highest number at 36.

Fentanyl, cocaine, and methamphetamine are the three drugs most commonly associated with the loss of life. Nearly 80 per cent of all overdose deaths in the province this year have involved fentanyl or fentanyl analogues, while just over 50 per cent have involved cocaine.

READ MORE: Some B.C. nurses given green light to prescribe safe drugs amid overdose spike



jesse.day@pentictonwesternnews.com

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