Police and medical experts have issued warnings about links between electronic music and illegal drugs, in the wake of the tragic death of a 19-year-old woman, who died after attending Harbourlife music festival in Sydney on Saturday, 8th November.
In a statement (via The Music), police superintendent Mark Walton has voiced his concerns and outlined the risks punters are taking when using illegal drugs. “I’m concerned that these electronic music events are consistently intimately associated with illicit psychoactive drug use,” he said. “Quite simply, you do not know what you’re taking.”
“Young women, young men, they want to know the contents of everything that they eat, they’ll look at food labels, they’ll look at cosmetics, they’re very particular about things, yet some of them – 78 at least yesterday – turned up with the intent to consume some of those products.”
Medical Association President Brian Owler has told the Nine Network’s TODAY program that people’s reactions to drugs is very unpredictable. “People need to be very careful about what they put into their bodies,” Owler said.
“We know that some people seem to be more susceptible than others and it is a very unpredictable reaction… I think we need to keep educating people about these sorts of drugs and the harms that can happen.”
A Sydney emergency department doctor, who requested not to be named, has recalled their experiences of drug-affected patients to Fairfax. “Australia-wide, ecstasy use, especially amongst the teenagers, or people in their early 20s, mixed with alcohol is very, very big,” the doctor said.
“The big danger comes when you mix pills and, in the past, there have been deaths from people just taking two tablets with different chemicals… But if you have two tablets that have different mechanisms, you can have a massive outpouring of serotonin leading to death.”
After falling unconscious at Harbourlife, the woman, now identified as Georgina Bartter, was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital, where she later died of multiple organ failure. Her death is suspected to be a drug overdose or severe allergic reaction, reportedly caused by ingesting one and a half pills.
Witnesses at Harbourlife told 9 News that Bartter was seen “convulsing in the manner of an epileptic fit”, before being taken away.
In a statement to 9 News, Bartter’s family have remembered her as “a beautiful and vibrant young woman, who was much loved and will be sadly missed.” The family added that Georgina Bartter had allergies, and that the events leading to her death were “extremely out of character”.
78 people were charged with drug-related offences at Harbourlife 2014.
Police are preparing a report for the coroner regarding Georgina Bartter’s death. They are also urging anyone with information in relation to her death to contact Crime Stoppers.