It's only August and the city of Vancouver has set a record for overdose deaths in one year

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      The city of Vancouver has hit an all-time high for fatal overdoses in a single year.

      As of August 14, there were 232 suspected drug-overdose deaths in 2017.

      The record number puts Vancouver on track for more than 400 deaths by the end of this year.

      It compares to 231 confirmed deaths in all of 2016, 136 the year before, 101 in 2014, and 80 in 2013.

      "The rising number of overdose deaths this year is horrendous and absolutely heartbreaking," said Mayor Gregor Robertson quoted in an August 21 media release. "We will continue to work with the new provincial government and pour city resources into tackling this crisis. We can't be complacent and let the number of deaths from this public health crisis be the new normal."

      The mayor repeated a call for greater assistance from the province and federal government.

      Among other suggestions, the city’s media release recommends “exploring decriminalization” and “expanding addictions treatment including injectable options”.

      On August 1, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a Global News reporter in Vancouver that despite rising numbers of deaths across Canada, his government is not considering reforming laws that pertain to hard drugs.

      Beyond Vancouver, the province is also easily on track to see a record number of overdose deaths this year. There were 780 fatal overdoses across B.C. during the first six months of 2017.

      That puts B.C. on track for 1,536 deaths in 2017. It compares to 978 during all of 2016 and an average of 204 deaths per year observed between 2001 and 2010.

      According to a July 2017 B.C. Coroners Service report, fentanyl was detected in 78 percent of fatal overdoses recorded during the first five months of this year.

      TRAVIS LUPICK / B.C. CORONERS SERVICE

      On August 16, the Straight reported on a B.C. Centre for Disease Control report that includes a number of radical options that could begin to lower the number of deaths associated with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that's significantly more toxic than heroin.

      Among those recommendations is that B.C. increase legal access to clean drugs, including injectable heroin, that long-time addicts could receive from a doctor.

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