As the latest statistics from the BC Coroners Service confirm illicit-drug-overdose fatalities are continuing to climb, posters aimed at getting the message across that the danger isn’t confined to addicts are being distributed throughout the Semiahmoo Peninsula.
Verna Logan, constituency assistant to Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg, confirmed last week that the posters, created by Fraser Health, have been sent to South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce officials for distribution to their membership, as well as the White Rock Business Improvement Association, the Surrey Board of Trade and other organizations.
The effort follows a disturbing series of overdose deaths in B.C. – including at least four in South Surrey/White Rock – about 60 per cent of which have been linked to fentanyl.
According to the coroners-office statistics, last month alone, 128 people in B.C. died from illicit-drug overdoses. The number was the highest monthly death toll in 2016; it brings the year’s fatal-overdose total to 755.
A pair of overdoses that occurred in a 24-hour period in White Rock last month prompted officials here to begin plans for a community forum in the new year that would shed light on the issue and “make people realize this isn’t just a Downtown Eastside story.”
The vision, Hogg told Peace Arch News, is to “convey as much information as we can to as many people as we can, including the schools.”
Poster recipients are being asked to display them in high-visibility areas frequented by customers or clients.
The hope is their message will hit home with those who either use drugs occasionally or who may be considering experimenting for the first time.
It warns that any drug can be contaminated.
“Your first time or your 50th, drugs don’t discriminate,” the poster states.
The Dec. 13 email to organizations being asked to distribute the posters notes that creating awareness “is one of the easiest things we can do to help get the message out.”
A date for a community forum has not yet been set, however, Hogg said there have been offers of space to hold it, including from Surrey School District and the City of Surrey.