The newspaper headline reads: “Five die after electronic music festival”. But this was not the news over the weekend here in the Philippines. This was on April 16 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
In the early morning hours of Sunday, May 22, four men and a woman died during and after an outdoor rave concert held at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City. Their ages ranged from 18 to 36 years old. At least one was a student, another a businessman and even an American national were among the fatalities. They were not together in a group and they were taken to different hospitals separately at 12:00 midnight, 2:00 a.m., 2:25 a.m., 3:00 a.m. and 3:55 a.m.
Is it too early to speculate as to what happened? Absolutely not.
The day after the deaths in Argentina, Dr. Alberto Crescenti, who heads the emergency medical system for the Argentine capital, told The Associated Press that doctors were still trying to determine what sort of drugs caused the deaths. Notice the statement: “What sort of drugs caused the deaths.”
While the outdoor venue was packed with some 14,000 people, it is highly improbable that “normal” heat stroke would have targeted just five of the concert goers and killed them.
Further, Chief Inspector Rolando Baula, head of the Station Investigation and Detective Management Branch of Pasay City Police, reported that initial medical findings show that massive heart attacks caused the deaths of the 18-year-old female student and the 36-year-old businessman.
So, yes, we should “speculate” on what caused those unnecessary deaths.
The popular street drug Ecstasy, or MDMA-Methylenedioxymethamphetamin, first invented in 1912, has absolutely no medical use. It is a recreational psychoactive drug and it can be deadly. According the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, Ecstasy stops “the natural alarm signals given out by the body. As a result, after taking the drug, a person on Ecstasy may not realize that he has become overheated and can faint or even die of heatstroke.”
Symptoms after taking the drug can be: high-blood pressure, seizures, loss of consciousness, and organ damage and complications due to increased body temperature. While fatality rates for MDMA usage are substantially lower than for other drugs known for causing “overdoses,” like heroin and methamphetamine (shabu), that is part of the problem. Recreational users of Ecstasy do not realize that they might be steadily killing their bodies while on the drug.
At P1,000 or more per dose, this is a problem of relatively affluent young people, as the drug is not hard to find on any college campus. A shipment worth P1.5 million was confiscated by the Bureau of Customs in March. In 2014 an Indian national who was a student at De La Salle University was arrested with 500 tablets. “Prab” was well known on campus.
Without making any judgment whatsoever in this case, people are going to do foolish things and that is their responsibility. But government also has a responsibility to educate and to enforce the law no matter how high in society the perpetrators might be.
Image credits: Jimbo Albano