126 B.C. children, youth died from fatal overdoses since 2019: report

Roughly three in five overdose fatalities were aged 17 or 18, while just over half were females. One researcher attributes the rising death toll to pandemic lockdown measures.

126 B.C. children, youth died from fatal overdoses since 2019: report
Remove Ads

More than 25 youth and young adults die a year from fatal drug overdoses in British Columbia, according to a report from the province’s Coroners Service.

Since 2019, 126 children and youth younger than 19 died from toxic drugs, making it the leading cause of death for the age demographic.

The report, Youth Unregulated Drug Toxicity Deaths in British Columbia, attributes five in six of those deaths to fentanyl or a combination of other substances.

Last January 31, Health Canada granted B.C. a pilot project exemption for three years under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to decriminalize people who possessed up to 2.5 grams of heroin, crack, cocaine, fentanyl, MDMA and meth.

In one disturbing instance, a 13-year-old Port Coquitlam teen named Madison became addicted to hydromorphone, which progressed to fentanyl—nearly costing her life on several occasions. She is now in recovery.

Roughly three in five fatalities were aged 17 or 18, while just over half were females.

“We need to do better, we need to address this unacceptable loss of life among these young people who died far too soon,” said Danya Fast, a research scientist with the B.C. Centre on Substance Use.

Fast partly attributes the rising death toll to pandemic lockdown measures that exacerbated feelings of isolation and loneliness among youth.

Leslie McBain of Moms Stop the Harm pointed out several tragedies in an interview with City News.

Of the reported deaths, 85 youth were diagnosed with mental health issues or displayed poor mental health.

Approximately two-thirds died after receiving services from the Ministry of Children and Family Development or had previously received them, reported The Canadian Press.

McBain asked, “How did we as adults and parents and the system let these kids fall through the cracks?”

“If there’s anything that’s going to stress out a kid, it’s being in the welfare system,” she said.

Fast urged parents to have frank discussions with their children about drug use. “We have a very dangerous situation on our hands,” she told CBC News.

“We need education, and we need mental health support,” added McBain.

In a statement, Mental Health and Addictions Minister Jennifer Whiteside said the government is working to build a “fully connected system” of mental health and addiction support.

“This includes increased treatment options for youth, as well as opening Foundry centres across the province to provide free and confidential counselling, primary-care, sexual health and substance-use services to young people aged 12-24 and their families,” she wrote.

“We've also launched crisis teams specifically for youth with mental health and addiction challenges to improve care and discharge planning.”

The ministry is also running an education campaign on transit and social media to warn of the dangers of drugs, and to encourage conversations with parents.

Since B.C. declared a public health emergency in April 2016, at least 14,400 people in the province have died from toxic drugs. Fentanyl is responsible for the overwhelming majority of those deaths.

Remove Ads
Remove Ads

Don't Get Censored

Big Tech is censoring us. Sign up so we can always stay in touch.

Remove Ads