Starting a Conversation Could Save a Life

January 2, 2019. Article by: Government of BC

There are many faces to the overdose emergency. And they belong to people we would all recognize.

More than 1450 people died of overdose in B.C. in 2017. Over 80% of these people were men.

44% of the people that died had jobs—hard jobs. More than half of this group worked in the trades and transport industries. 

Welders, truckers, and labourers.

79% of the people that died received medical treatment sometime in the year before they overdosed—more than half of that number for pain issues.

Fathers, uncles, and brothers. Coworkers, fishing buddies, and friends.

These guys often keep their feelings close to their chests. You can imagine what they might say if you asked how things were going.

“Fine, thanks.”

“I’m doing good.”

“Oh, you know, living the dream.”

But sometimes, they are suffering in silence. There are a lot of reasons why so many men hide their struggles, and account for so many overdose deaths in B.C. Workplace injuries, health issues, unresolved trauma and other problems are common paths that can lead to problematic substance use. Tragically, an unpredictable, highly-toxic drug supply has put anyone who uses illegal drugs at risk of overdose.

What you can do to help

Having courageous conversations and approaching the topic of substance use with compassion and without blame lets someone know they’re not alone.

As former NHL goaltender Kirk McLean says, these conversations aren’t easy. But it could be the most important conversation you ever have—and might even save a life.

Whether you’re a family member, friend, healthcare professional or someone else, you can help a person that is struggling. Everyone has the power to provide support and compassion, and to start the conversations that make a real difference.

We can all be part of the solution.

How to start a conversation

Learn how to ask if someone is OK.

Hear conversations that changed lives.