about what’s happening

on the july coroners update
on overdose deaths in BC.

i want to give people some information about this update from the provincial coroner on tuesday. it’s your information, actually, and sometimes facts are hard to come by. i’ll do separate posts because nobody likes one that goes on forever.

first here’s a few things the coroner said.

“The number of people dying in B.C. due to an unsafe drug supply continues to surpass deaths due to homicides, motor vehicle incidents, suicides and COVID-19 combined,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner.

175.

or 5.6 deaths every day. average.

july was the third month in a row when there were 170+ Illicit Drug Toxicity Deaths -> using “illicit” to mean that they *socially* not permitted, so people use alone – and not just illegal. different. and toxicity -> poisoned, not overdose. because you use what you use but there’s not way of knowing this.

this is from the coroner’s service statement:

“Once again, post-mortem toxicology testing data published in this report suggest an increase in the number of cases with extreme fentanyl concentrations (exceeding 50 micrograms per litre) in April, May, June and July 2020 compared with previous months.”

how concentrated is that? compare smooth peanut butter vs crunchy. but you can’t see the crunchy bits.

those tiny numbers at the bottom of this are number of deaths per 100,000 – a measurement to compare. right now what matters is that we’re at 30.5/100,000. in 2018, we were 31. remember 2018?


Housing

the next thing the update looks at is the location of death. this is one thing where the vancouver region is really different from other parts of the province.

the red slice in the two pie charts is for supportive/social/SRO housing.

Private Residence – includes driveways garages, trailer homes and either decedent’s own or another’s residence.
Other Residence – includes hotels, motels, rooming houses, SRO (single room occupancy, shelters, social/supportive housing etc.)
Medical facility – includes hospitals, community care facilities, etc
Occupational site – includes locations where the decedent was at their place of work.
Public buildings – includes restaurants, community centres, businesses, clinics, etc.
Outside – includes vehcles, streets, sidewalks, parking lots, public parks, wooded areas, and campgrounds

so, there were DOUBLE the % of overdose deaths in supportive, social, SRO, and hotels, shelters etc in the VCH region than province-wide! Doesn’t that seem like something that could be directly addressed? Instead, operators lie to the public and to funders about “community” and “looking out for one another” and meanwhile abuse their staff who in turn abuse the residents. demolition by neglect.

And “meeting people where they’re at” or even “wrap-around supports” is obviously not identical single-resident units. when homeless people refuse to live in such housing, it is clearly a signal that the housing is not adequate.

if you are living in an encampment and managing ok, and use drugs, and prefer living to being dead, it’s the rational choice.

but obviously these are shitty choices.

just to make the shittiness clear, here’s the two articles from late last year about how no one even bothers to keep track of how many people die in vancouver’s supportive housing, numbers are going up, an its super fucked up.

No one is monitoring Deaths in Supportive Housing – Travis Lupick, Georgia Straight, Dec 2019

“If it were daycares or hospitals or prisons, and if there were one or two or three deaths, we would have reached a stage that triggered an investigation,” Gagnon argued. “People are dying in these spaces, no one is doing anything about it. No one is even looking into it.”

Deaths Rise Amid Conflicting Rules – Travis Lupick, Georgia Straight

continuing on the housing problem (no one wanting to live in the housing/ everyone being dead)

as i’m finding, there isnt A Solution to this: there are many, and “the solution” is always for People to Have Real Choices, which is very simple and outrageously revolutionary at the same time. you should see the looks i get – i might change my name to WTF.

(also whenever someone who has any power at all says “this is how it is down here” – tells you to accept the unacceptable and get used to it – they are not On Your Side, and now you must fight even harder, often alone, because its real.)

on average, 20% – 40% of regular drug users prefer to / will only use alone: it’s their thing. should they be prioritized for safer supply access?low-income/supportive housing needs to have harm reduction built right into it – not be the same as ever, now! with naloxone.

harm remains a feature of operation: how power is deployed when someone has even a tiny bit.such housing must have using rooms, units for couples, units for street families, drug checking and ☑️ dealers.

housing that acknowledges that drug users exist, in design and policy.formal accountability structures and a complaint process THAT IS DOCUMENTED, and collaborative management between operators and residents. resident committees. yeah low-income co-ops and resident self-management

did you know that not everything needs to become a total clusterdumpsterfire before you can try to fix it? or do something else?

we must dump this idea that 100% shelter rate is only housing worth working for. i would very much prefer to live in the world. what do you think? people out there have often never met people like any of us. i have found that if you give them a chance, most of the time everyone is surprised. and frankly we’re not going to change things any other way.

its like we’ve been behind a wall for 20 years.


Poverty Cycling

the next part of the coroner’s report is on the day/week when the most overdose events occur. let’s talk about what to do about cheque week.this chart is of deaths per day for the province – cheque day is the same day everywhere, but the supply is local. or in transit, from one market to others. as you can see, cheque day seems to be starting to look like other days by the end of 2019 – or was it?

it definitely was not.

the peaks in the lines are cheque week. this chart is of 911 calls for ODs.in 2019, deaths were down by 1/3. calls for serious overdoses were almost exactly the same. as ive said before, it was the changing supply – the benzos. people were very messed up and some will never be ok, but they didnt die.

in the last three months, calls have increased dramatically.

from the gov’t release:

“Paramedics are responding to and reviving overdose patients about 80 times a day, every single day in B.C.,” said Jon Deakin, paramedic practice leader with BCEHS. “It’s a lot. It’s the highest number of daily overdoses BCEHS has ever seen.”

This graph is from the BCCDC – the blue line at the top represents 911 calls throughout the province and the five line nearer the bottom represent the five health regions.

Oh here’s a chart of the % of benzo content in the local down, week by week, since january.

here are those two charts on top of each other. the blue Xs are cheque week.

we can’t have cheque day, or cheque week like this anymore. we don’t have time for another study to find out if people who use drugs prefer being alive. also, fuck the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use and their useless exploitative ‘research’.

we can’t allow the government to continue dumping all the legit money on all the poor people in the province on the same day. when you think about it that way, it’s ridiculous.

so here’s my idea: what if you could decide yourself when and how you’d get your assistance on the regular? work it out, depending on what you want to be doing. twice a month, every week, twice a week, thirty bucks a day, whatever. keep cheque day if you’re lazy. yes, you must get a bank account. do you like getting ripped off? yes, we need our own bank, if pigeon bank isnt working out for you.

the point is for you to make choices for yourself – which is all i hear from people everyday, that’s all they want.

this is the only way that i can imagine that would break this fucked up cycle for real. what do people think?

COVID amplifies

COVID amplifies systemic violence: increasing and accelerating the impacts of already existing policy, policy trends, and practices. the consequences, intended or not, immediately impact people exposed to risk, because they haven’t made any policy choices, and can only react. and these consequences collide and combine in unexpected ways, depending on local context.

so drug users are dying in large and increasing numbers. almost all of us will die, from many things – all of them consequences of injustice.

for example, the guest ban in SROs and supportive housing has directly led to a lot of deaths in the neighbourhood which would otherwise been prevented – and in multiple ways. obviously yes, overdosing because using alone. also, where is the “guest” now? living rough on the street, then dead from a stabbing. the ban prevents a resident with mobility issues from visiting their friend across the street, who would have insisted that they go to the hospital, but that didn’t happen, so they’re dead. lots of that. my own building was decimated in may. ten percent of my neighbours died.

and the supply is toxic. its all over the place in terms of potency, composition, and internal consistency, as has been noted.

there are so many stupid terrible ways that poor people die. sometimes it’s one little thing that goes wrong, and then everything falls to pieces. those are consequences, and not causes.

as is poverty, and its cycle (in lockstep with the illicit supply), which is also a killer. we have to stop having cheque day. people must be empowered to design their own assistance schedule, in consultation with an advisor. the government must stop dumping all the legal money on poor people once a month. this needs to stop. it can. it’s a choice.

these are excess COVID deaths. COVID amplifies.

i also discovered that this is happening everywhere, at least in canada, and even more so this US, which makes sense in drug policy terms. 30% -> 50% – 90% mortality, March – April – May, quite consistently. Everywhere I could find overdose data. Because it’s a pandemic, which means everywhere.

“Between March 15 and April 25, British Columbia recorded 372 more deaths than in any of the previous five years for those same weeks — but just 99 of those were confirmed COVID-19 cases.”

Excess deaths, june 19, cbc

so at this rate, by year’s end … well, my advice is to speak directly to users. for once. like we’re human. and say that at least 6000 drug users will almost definitely be dead by year’s end.

Overdoses – in this sense – are only the most dramatic in an overwhelming tide of death. and will continue to be for a little while. but they are not the cause of death. nor is COVID.

people say they hate drug use, and users, but that’s an excuse: that’s why the drug war is maintained- they need this reason to justify such hate. but as it turns out drug users are oppressed racialized minorities, Black and Indigenous people, people with disabilities, whether physical or mental or emotional, and queer and trans people, and other people denied or unable to access regulated medical care (undocumented migrants, injured contract workers, youth or teens fleeing abusive homes), and often a combination of these, and then add poverty. these are lived political contexts, these are lives lived in great pain, exposed to this system’s violence. and trapped in it. it looks like the people here. it hurts. a lot. drugs soothe that somewhat. for a time. it’s not the drugs, it’s drug policy.

that is why this is political and why it is about justice. because injustice is fatal.

choosing death

that line is about to bust through the graph.

there is no reason to hope that it will change course, as the situation stands now. hope is actually not helpful.

this is the provincial coroner’s update on illicit drug toxicity deaths in british columbia to the end of February 2021.

Image

remember in last month’s update, it was 165 deaths in january? nine have been added. 155 in february, for an average of 165.

take a deep breath and also remember those who are uncounted, those who suffered catastrophic neurological harm from oxygen deprivation, those who survived but will never recover and are uncounted

its so much worse than 2017 or 2018. and when 2017 or 2018 is your closest comparison and the provincial government takes a wait-and-see approach – thinks they can wait it out – that tells me that they don’t understand this at all, and that we are all going to die.

Image

this means over 2000 deaths in 2021 in BC.

look at these other “Unnatural” deaths – add them up and its still not close. “unnatural” means “preventable”, for the most part. but as ours are deaths caused by drug policy (not drugs), these deaths are the predictable consequences of choices we have made, and continue to make:

Comparison to Other Common Causes of Unnatural Deaths from 2010 to 2020

these are social murders, mass killings by structural violence, amplified in these COVIDtimes:

“when society places hundreds …in such a position that they inevitably meet a too early and an unnatural death, one which is quite as much a death by violence as that by the sword or bullet, murder it remains” (Engels 1845) on Social Murder

stop murdering the younger generations, stop killing your children, think of the children.

38.2% (2 of every 5) of the people who died under the age of 45 died from drug poisoning.

holy fucken hell.

look at northern health.

This map illustrating the regional mortality rates for overdose/poisoning deaths in The Best Place on Earth is almost meaningless as almost every region’s rate is above the highest threshold.


almost half of the deaths in the Vancouver Coastal region occur in “other” residences: supportive housing, SROs, shelters… that’s the DTES: we must mandate harm reduction as a principle of building design and housing management – as part of what accessibility means. people reject this housing because they don’t want to die. it is not accessible. we must change this.

“More illicit drug toxicity deaths occurred during the days following income assistance payment (Wed-Sun) than all other days in 2020-21.”

except last april. the first month of the $300 topup.

raise the rates and stop cheque day (for anyone who wants their $ on a schedule they choose) raise the damn rates and stop dumping all the legal money on all the poor people on the same day.

WHERE DID THIS 10.5 MILLION DOLLARS GO THAT WAS ANNOUNCED ON AUGUST 4 2020

was the $ “used to open 17 new supervised consumption services and 12 new inhalation services in communities hit the hardest by the overdose crisis”?

and where is the safe supply. because every day 5+ people die, you dont announce their deaths solemnly, and you do less. you know “treatment” just means dignified health care, right? you seem more interested in the unregulated treatment indu$try.

today is day 1,806 of the overdose emergency. april 14 will be its fifth year. dont say you’re heartbroken and do nothing. it doesnt have to be this way.

traffic pylon in alley; "I Miss All My Friends, RIP Shaggy, 1993-2019, Dec 9" written on it.

there’s a few other things to say but lets take a few minutes


DON’T SAY IT

“In February, we lost 155 people to a toxic illicit drug supply in B.C. They were taken too soon. It’s a heartbreaking loss. Front-line workers, caregivers, families and peers deserve our gratitude as they respond to overdoses and care for loved ones during a pandemic that has made everything worse.

i dont think you understand whats happening here. i feel sick.

We brought deaths down before and we’ll do it again.

oh you dont understand this at all.

ACTUALLY. YOU ARE THE GOVERNMENT AND *CAN* REGULATE THE DRUG SUPPLY.

please tell your MLA that you dont want the daily human ritual executions of 5+ people to continue expand Safe Supply through regulation now & Decriminalize, amend the police act. raise the rates to the *poverty line* and yeah housing now.

over 100 crappy toys in a crap tree  the Regent.

i am scared for all you.

in the aftertimes you are going to be messed up. so will the youngers. you will suffer from anxiety and insomnia and loneliness and other mental health problems, and chronic, searing pain.

because you are human you will want to feel better, or even good. you will want drugs.

you dont want to go through what we have been through. you dont want this.

this tree broke from the weight of the toys, each one memorializing someone who had died.

please write your MLA. this emergency cant go on.

Stop Killing Everyone

the federal government is introducing criminal justice something-something reform today, about “prioritizing rehabilitation programs for people caught with drugs.”

★ maybe it expands drug treatment courts, which are shitty

★ maybe it eliminates mandatory minimums

★ maybe it creates treatment programs, funded so that people can access them? hahaha no

★ maybe it gives police the authority to make decisions about people’s lives that they should NOT be making

★ maybe it is a half-step, a slight lean away from criminalization to pathologization which is a good way help police and doctors and continue killing thousands and thousands of people who use drugs every year.

none of that is actually good. now who’s decriminalized?

i’m sure it will be some combination of the above, some weak-ass gesture that will not end this social massacre that Trudeau’s governments will be remembered for (eventually), but it might get him through an election using the same slogan “We’re Not The Worst” and keep the votes of anyone who still believes this bullshit. that is, not one person who has been paying attention.

instead, the government could do something effective. no really. its a choice.

Residents Demand Huge Towers When Unobstructed View Reveal Mountains To Be Gigantic Heap of Drug User Corpses

Fuck View Corridors, Says All of Yaletown

“If there isn’t at least the beginnings of two or three dozen 60-storey mixed-income towers all over the place by the end of this month, I’m leaving town and won’t write a heartfelt think-piece about it,” said a guy with a job and home and a stupid hat.

Tourism Vancouver has indicated that many cruise ship passengers, unsure now of what to do and shocked at the un-postcardlike spectacle, can be spotted downtown, spinning in place.

Local attractions have also taken a sudden economic hit. Northbound travel on bridges has virtually ceased.

“Quick,” reads one hastily scrawled letter to council. “How about Temporary Modular Sixty-storey Towers? INCREASE MY PROPERTY TAXES. Whatever you need.”

The sudden awareness of the mountains of drug user corpses looming over the city has resulted, of course, in resentful bitterness among those vying for the title of first-world problem warrior (vancouver 2022).

“I want to look soulfully at mountains when things are tough and I need to put things in perspective,” said a software engineer whose life is totally tough. “I don’t want to be reminded of the epidemic in our midst that illustrates so precisely the scale of the tragic moral and cultural failures of our society.”

“Obviously I never want that.”

all memed up

woman yelling at cat. 
woman: these memes are incredibly harsh
cat: go meme yrself

Drug policy & overdose emergency memes

i hate drug policy and the overdose emergency so much!

  • vpd chief palmer recommends decrim, and admiral ackbar behind him says ITS A TRAP
  • zooming in and out on a werewolf! caption: its not a silver bullet.... or IS it?

institute for the history of possible futures

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