The death toll from fatal overdoses continues to climb as Penticton marked another record year in 2022.
According to recently released information from the BC Coroners Service, there were 27 deaths in Penticton due to a fatal overdose last year. That gives Penticton a per capita death rate higher than Abbotsford or the Greater Victoria area.
The 27 deaths also breaks the record set in 2021 of 26 deaths. Outside of 2020, which was an unusual year across the world, fatal overdoses have climbed dramatically since 2016.
The last time that Penticton saw single-digits for fatal overdoses was in 2016. That year there were seven deaths attributed to a fatal overdose.
In 2017, the number of deaths more than doubled to 16, which was repeated in 2018, and then the numbers grew again in 2019 to 22.
Despite the increase in the number of fatal overdoses, the number of calls in Penticton overall went down according to recently released BC Emergency Health Services statistics.
According to those statistics, the number of calls to overdoses dropped by about 11 per cent, from 748 in 2021 down to 661 in 2022. Per capita, that still leaves the city with calls far in excess of almost every other city in the province.
In Surrey for example, there was roughly one overdose call for every 211 people, and in Kelowna there was one call for every 126 people. In Penticton, there was one call for every 56 people.
Despite the high number of per capita calls and the high number of fatal overdoses, the decrease in the total number of calls according to the BC EHS made Penticton one of the few communities in the Okanagan to see a drop.
Kelowna’s numbers continued their yearly increase, rising from 1,590 in 2021 to 1,824 in 2022. Kamloops rose from 1,070 to 1,285, Vernon from 457 to 513, Oliver from 34 to 37, Osoyoos from 16 to 24 and Summerland from 30 to 38.
Keremeos was another of the nearby communities that saw a decrease, going from 15 calls in 2021 to 11 in 2022. In 2022 the community saw four fatal overdoses according to the coroners’ report.
Most fatal overdoses continued to be with people whose drugs had fentanyl in them. According to the BC Coroners Service, 82 per cent of overdose deaths were found with fentanyl, however they also added that the percentage may change as further toxicology reports come in.
Across the province, 55 per cent of deaths occurred in private residences, with 29 per cent occurring in other indoor residences such as shelters, hotels and social housing. The remaining 15 per cent occurred outside in locations such as vehicles, parks or the streets.
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