CB: sharp increase in homeless deaths in 2021, partly due to drugs

VANCOUVER — British Columbia’s toxic drug crisis was a key factor in the 75% increase in homeless deaths in 2021 over the previous year, according to the BC Coroner’s Office. British.

A preliminary report released by the body on Wednesday shows that 247 homeless people lost their lives last year.

« This report reflects the risks and realities that people experiencing homelessness face every day, » Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe said in a statement. “We know that many homeless people face significant health issues, including physical disabilities, mental health issues and addictions.

The report says that 85% of deaths recorded last year among homeless people were accidental, and that 93% of these accidental deaths were caused by the illicit drug supply.

The Coroners Service says an average of 153 homeless people died each year between 2016 and 2020 in British Columbia.

In a joint statement, Housing Minister Murray Rankin and Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson called each death a tragedy.

“The data is a stark reminder of the devastating effects of the toxic drug crisis on the people of British Columbia. These effects are compounded by the daily risks and health issues faced by homeless people,” their statement said.

« We are working on all fronts to turn the tide of this crisis, including expanding treatment services and harm reduction measures like drug control and safer prescribed supplies, including for homeless people. . »

Ministers added that their government continues to open supportive housing and complex care housing for people who need a higher level of support, for overlapping mental health and addictions issues. , trauma or acquired brain injury.

On the other hand, a related report looked at the number of deaths among homeless people in the decade from 2012 to 2021. It found that people between the ages of 30 and 59 accounted for 72% of reported deaths and that 83 % of those who died were men.

More than half of the deaths under investigation occurred in Fraser and Vancouver Coastal Health Authority territories.

Nearly three quarters of the deaths studied were classified as accidental, and 87% of these were determined to have been caused by the toxicity of illicit drugs.

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