Following the death of a teenager at her 18th birthday from alcohol intoxication, a coroner has recommended every secondary school pupil in WA be educated on the physical affects of alcohol on young bodies.
The 18 year old died at her 18th birthday party in 2015 where she had consumed 18 drinks of Polmos Spirytus Rektyfikowany, which has a 95 per cent alcohol content.
To draw attention to the dangers of drinking high strength alcohol and drinking games, a particular concern among young adults, Deputy State Coroner Evelyn Vicker held an inquest into the death.
She also said that restrictions on high potency alcohol would not be enough to deter those that are most vulnerable, the youth.
She explained that the developing brains of young people are damaged by alcohol intoxication, especially excessive binge drinking. This alone can result in death, she explained.
“The evidence surrounding the death of the deceased teaches us developing brains are damaged by alcohol intoxication, especially excessive binge drinking and death can result from alcohol intoxication alone,” Ms Vicker wrote.
“As a result I am of the view there is only one reasonable recommendation available and that is for there to be education around the physiology of alcohol toxicity.”
Ms Vicker’s recommendation will be sent to the Director General of the WA Department of Education, the chair of the Board of the Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia and the Executive Director of the Catholic Education Commission of WA. In the recommendation, she calls for alcohol education for every secondary school student in the state.
“Such education (needs) to explain the need for hospitalisation for people unconscious due to the effects of intoxication and the need for CPR to be commenced and continued until advised otherwise by attending paramedics if the intoxicated person ceases to breathe for themselves.”
During the inquest it came to light that the teenager had told friends she wanted to drink 18 drinks for her 18th birthday. The drinking games apparently started after her mother had gone to bed.
She and friends played a game called waterfall which involved skolling from a bottle of Midori while 9-10 people had shots one after another. Her brother said he had also seen her take 2 gulps from the Polish spirit bottle after the game. She then began to “spiral quickly”.
He said she then became quiet and sat in a chair, more relaxed. He said he tried to give her water but it just dribbled straight down.