Juristat Bulletin—Quick Fact
Illicit drug overdose deaths, 2011 to 2016, British Columbia and Surrey

Release date: November 13, 2018

Overview

In 2016, British Columbia’s provincial health officer declared a public health emergency in response to a rise in illicit drug overdoses and related deaths. Between 2011 and 2016 there were 2,362 confirmed illicit drug overdose deaths in British Columbia and 332 in Surrey alone.

Statistics Canada, in partnership with the BC Coroners Service, City of Surrey, Surrey Fire Service, Surrey RCMP Detachment, Fraser Health Authority, BC Stats, BC Centre for Disease Control, BC Ministry of Health and Public Safety Canada, is undertaking a project to assess the socio-economic determinants of the drug overdose crisis by leveraging and integrating various administrative databases. The first focus of analysis involves the integration of illicit drug overdose deaths with employment and social assistance data, health and hospitalization records, and criminal justice system contacts.

Chart 1

Data table for Chart 1 
Data table for Chart 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 1. The information is grouped by Year of death (appearing as row headers), British Columbia and Surrey, calculated using number units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year of death British Columbia Surrey
number
2011 293 42
2012 268 44
2013 326 35
2014 360 44
2015 476 72
2016 639 95

Chart 2

Data table for Chart 2 
Data table for Chart 2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 2 British Columbia and Surrey (appearing as column headers).
British Columbia Surrey
Under 18 1% 0%
18 to 24 12% 12%
25 to 34 25% 27%
35 to 44 25% 24%
45 to 54 23% 24%
55 to 64 13% 11%
65 and older 1% 1%

Chart 2a

Data table for Chart 2a 
Data table for Chart 2a
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 2a British Columbia and Surrey (appearing as column headers).
British Columbia Surrey
Female 23% 19%
Male 77% 81%

Hospitalizations And Emergency Department Visits

Approximately one-quarter of decedents were hospitalized in the 12 months prior to death. The majority of those who were hospitalized were hospitalized only once during that year.

Chart 3

Data table for Chart 3 
Data table for Chart 3
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 3 British Columbia (appearing as column headers).
British Columbia
Not hospitalized 74%
Hospitalized 26%
Hospitalized once 15%
Hospitalized twice 6%
Hospitalized 3 or more times 6%

Chart 4

Data table for Chart 4 
Data table for Chart 4
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 4 Surrey (appearing as column headers).
Surrey
Not hospitalized 77%
Hospitalized 23%
Hospitalized once 13%
Hospitalized twice 6%
Hospitalized 3 or more times 4%

Chart 5

Data table for Chart 5 
Data table for Chart 5
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 5 British Columbia and Surrey (appearing as column headers).
British Columbia Surrey
Substance use related disorders 23% 21%
Mental health conditions, excl. substance use disorders 19% 14%
Injuries & poisonings, excl. opioid-poisonings 16% 16%
Opioid-poisonings 17% 22%

Approximately 40% of decedents visited the emergency department in the 12 months prior to death. Multiple visits to an emergency department were not uncommon.

Chart 6

Data table for Chart 6 
Data table for Chart 6
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 6 British Columbia (appearing as column headers).
British Columbia
No Emergency department (ED) visits 59%
Visit to Emergency department 41%
1 ED visit 14%
2 ED visits 8%
3 ED visits 5%
4 or more ED visits 15%

Chart 7

Data table for Chart 7 
Data table for Chart 7
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 7 Surrey (appearing as column headers).
Surrey
No Emergency department (ED) visits 57%
Visit to Emergency department 43%
1 ED visit 16%
2 ED visits 5%
3 ED visits 6%
4 or more ED visits 15%

Employment And Social Assistance

Approximately 3 in 10 decedents had no earnings in the 5 years prior to their fatal overdose. A similar proportion were employed in each of the 5 years preceding their overdose death, many of them in the construction industry.

Chart 8

Data table for Chart 8 
Data table for Chart 8
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 8. The information is grouped by Number of years with earnings over $500 (appearing as row headers), British Columbia and Surrey (appearing as column headers).
Number of years with earnings over $500 British Columbia Surrey
0 34% 28%
1 11% 14%
2 9% 11%
3 9% 7%
4 11% 13%
5 26% 28%

Chart 9

Data table for Chart 9 
Data table for Chart 9
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 9 British Columbia, Surrey and Employed persons age 25-54 in British Columbia, June 2016 (appearing as column headers).
British Columbia Surrey Employed persons age 25-54 in British Columbia, June 2016
Construction 21% 23% 10%
Building maintenance, waste management and other support services 13% 18% 4%
Accommodation and food services 11% 6% 6%
Retail trade 9% 7% 9%
Manufacturing 9% 10% 7%
Transportation and warehousing 6% 10% 6%

While 40% of decedents did not receive any social assistance in the 5 years prior to death, 31% of decedents in British Columbia and 28% in Surrey received social assistance benefits every year.

Chart 10

Data table for Chart 10 
Data table for Chart 10
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 10. The information is grouped by Number of years receiving social assistance benefits (appearing as row headers), British Columbia and Surrey (appearing as column headers).
Number of years receiving social assistance benefits British Columbia Surrey
0 40% 40%
1 7% 8%
2 7% 8%
3 8% 8%
4 7% 9%
5 31% 28%

Contact With Police

While the majority of decedents did not have a contact with police, 34% of decedents in British Columbia (and 36% of decedents in Surrey) were an accused in a criminal incident in the 24 months preceding their fatal overdose. Further, 11% of individuals who fatally overdosed in British Columbia and Surrey had four or more contacts with the police in the 24 months preceding their death.

Chart 11

Data table for Chart 11 
Data table for Chart 11
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 11 British Columbia and Surrey (appearing as column headers).
British Columbia Surrey
No contact with police 66% 64%
One contact 13% 13%
Two contacts 6% 7%
Three contacts 4% 5%
Four or more contacts 11% 11%

Decedents were disproportionally involved in incidents of shoplifting and administration of justice offences, including fail to comply with order and breach of probation.

Chart 12

Data table for Chart 12 
Data table for Chart 12
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 12 Decedents in British Columbia, Decedents in Surrey and All criminal incidents in British Columbia (appearing as column headers).
Decedents in British Columbia Decedents in Surrey All criminal incidents in British Columbia
Shoplifting $5,000 or under 14% 17% 5%
Disturb the peace 12% 11% 12%
Fail to comply with order 9% 10% 2%
Breach of probation 8% 7% 1%
Assault - level 1 8% 9% 6%
Mischief 3% 1% 12%
Breaking and entering 3% 3% 8%

Of those decedents that had a contact with police, approximately one-third in British Columbia (33%) and one-quarter in Surrey (24%) had a formal contact with police in the 3 months prior to their fatal overdose.


Table 1
Proportion of decedents with a police contact, by time elapsed between their last police contact and fatal overdose, cumulative percent
Table summary
This table displays the results of Proportion of decedents with a police contact. The information is grouped by Time period prior to fatal overdose (appearing as row headers), British Columbia and Surrey (appearing as column headers).
Time period prior to fatal overdose British Columbia Surrey
1 month prior to fatal overdose 16% 10%
3 months prior to fatal overdose 33% 24%
6 months prior to fatal overdose 52% 47%
12 months prior to fatal overdose 74% 75%
18 months prior to fatal overdose 89% 89%
24 months prior to fatal overdose 100% 100%

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