At least 18 people died of opioid overdoses in the city of Toronto last month, according to data compiled by paramedics and public health officials.

The number of deaths last month exceeded any month this past winter except for November, and exceeded all other months dating back to Sept. 2017.

The number of deaths corresponds with an increase in the number of calls for suspected non-fatal opioid overdoses, which exceeded300 in February for the first time since Sept. 2018.

An earlier public health report found the highest number of overdose sufferers were men between the ages of 30 and 39, with more than 600 instances of men in that age group suffering opioid overdoses in Toronto between Aug. 2017 and Aug. 2018.

In 2017, Toronto saw 308 deaths due to opioid overdoses, up from 186 the previous year.

Officials say preliminary information from the first nine months of 2018 shows 193 deaths suspected of being caused by opioid overdose. 

In the first half of March, officials say five peoplehave died of opioid overdoses.

Overdose calls in the city are concentrated most heavily in the Moss Park, Church-Yonge Corridor and Bay Street Corridor neighbourhoods.

Naloxone use minimal outside of paramedic response

The most recent public health report finds that between Aug. 2017 and Aug. 2018 bystanders used overdose reversal drug naloxone on victims about 20 per cent of the time.

But in the neighbourhoods most heavily impacted by opioid use — Moss Park, the Church-Yonge Corridor and the Bay Street Corridor — bystanders use naloxone to assist victims between five and eleven per cent of the time.

Last summer, Toronto police equipped approximately 1,000 of its officers with naloxone.

Numerous pharmacies, shelters and other community organizations in the city have been given free naloxone kits to hand out to the public.