Kelowna 4th worst city in BC for homeless deaths – Kelowna Capital News

Kelowna 4th worst city in BC for homeless deaths - Kelowna Capital News
B.C. coroners report shows 140% increase in homeless deaths in 1 year
A report from the BC Coroners Service shows a significant increase in the number of deaths of homeless individuals in this province since the opioid crisis was declared in 2016.

According to the report, 175 homeless people died between 2015 and 2016, a 140 per cent increase over 73 deaths in 2015. The province declared a state of emergency regarding the opioid crisis in the spring of 2016.

The biggest increase in overdose deaths in the homeless population was in males ages 30 to 60 — which matches the trend in the general population, said Andy Watson, spokesman for the B.C. Coroners Service. It certainly looks like it correlates. I think the overdose deaths has really been a key part of that.

"Certainly, we see some correlation between the sharp increase in the number of deaths involving homeless individuals and the increase that we saw at the end of 2016 with deaths involving overdoses," said Andy Watson, a spokesperson for the coroners service.

The coroners report looked at all unexpected deaths of homeless people between 2007 and 2016. While homelessness has many definitions, the coroner service looked at the deaths of people living outdoors, in short-term shelters, safe houses and transition houses.

The deaths taken into account in this report include non-natural deaths, sudden deaths and unexpected deaths where the person was not under the care of a physician.

Lets talk about the people who havent had a chance since the day they were born, those born into poverty, born into drugs and alcohol, mental illness. We as a society have left them out on the streets to die.

In 2016, 86 per cent of accidental deaths and 53 per cent of all deaths resulted from unintentional drug and/or alcohol poisoning.

In comparison, between 2007 and 2015, drug and/or alcohol poisoning accounted for an average of 63 per cent of accidental deaths and 34 per cent of all deaths.

The report defines homeless individuals as cases where no fixed address was given as the home address, the place of injury was a homeless shelter or if the circumstances of death suggest homelessness.

Of the 175 deaths, more than half — 93 — were the result of drug overdoses or alcohol poisoning. Thats up sharply from the 38 homeless people who died due to drugs or alcohol the year before.

The findings show 85 per cent of those who died were male. The highest proportion of deaths for females was 27 per cent in the 30 to 39-year-old age group. 

The majority of homeless people — 59 per cent — died in communities covered by Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health. Vancouver saw the highest number of deaths in 2016, at 43.

Together, the Fraser Heatlh and Vancouver Coast Health authorities accounted for 59 per cent of deaths from 2007 to 2016.

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Members of the street community are part of the human fabric of Victoria, Tysick said, and theyre too often forgotten by politicians who have focused on the middle class.

VANCOUVER – The number of homeless people who died in British Columbia more than doubled in 2016 compared with the previous year, and the majority died of drug overdoses or alcohol poisoning.

Rev. Al Tysick, founder of the Dandelion Society, which helps the most marginalized in the street community, said people need to see the human stories beyond the statistics.

A new report from the BC Coroners Service says 175 homeless individuals died in the province in 2016, a 140 per cent increase over the 73 who died in 2015.

The coroner says 53 per cent of the deaths in 2016 resulted from unintentional drug or alcohol poisoning, compared with 34 per cent on average from 2007 to 2015.

As he has done for decades, Tysick hits the downtown streets every morning, dishing out coffee, muffins and warm blankets to people sleeping rough.

B.C. has been gripped by an opioid crisis and the mounting death toll in 2016 prompted the province to declare a public health emergency in April of that year.

Close to 60% of the deaths in 2016 were accidental, 86% of them attributed to a drug and/or alcohol overdose. Most of the people who died were male. @bccoroners also notes that deaths occurred more often in the later months of the year. @NEWS1130

Advocacy group Megaphone says the province should form a death review panel to examine why homeless fatalities are on the rise and make recommendations for how governments can address the emergency.

Executive director Jessica Hannon says people who experience homelessness and also use drugs are disproportionately impacted by the overdose crisis.

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