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Report: Dying at a Concert is Easier Than You Think

IMAGE: Nearly 60 deaths at concerts in the United States and Canada were documented from 2010 to 2013. Image courtesy ClickitTicket
IMAGE: Nearly 60 deaths at concerts in the United States and Canada were documented from 2010 to 2013. Image courtesy ClickitTicket
June 13, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The summer concert season has arrived, but amid the music and crowds, dangers are lurking that can lead to tragedy, primarily for teens and young adults.

A new analysis from ClickitTicket reviewed more than 200 fatalities at concerts since 1969, and found about three dozen were drug-related.

ClickitTicket CEO Jason OConnor says the drugs used at concerts include cocaine, heroin, bath salts, meth and – one of the most-often mentioned – MDMA, also known as "ecstasy" or "Molly," which can lead to hyperthermia, elevated body temperature.

"Oftentimes, people become very dehydrated and they don't realize what they're doing to their body," says OConnor. "Let's say they're at a concert and they're dancing around, and they're taking this. They don't notice that they're thirsty - they don't notice anything - and that's when you start to get into problems."

OConnor also notes stories of "bad" batches of MDMA, laced with dangerous chemicals.

According to the report, other leading causes of concert deaths are crowd stampedes, structural failures and violence.

While overdoses or deaths can happen at any music venue, OConnor points to festivals such as Bonnaroo, in Tennessee, where there have been 10 fatalities in the past decade. He says at least half were drug-related.

"And Phish shows do seem to have quite a bit of drugs there," he adds. "That's sort of an extension of the Grateful Dead, and there were a lot of drugs in that culture. And then, the other real big one that we talked about was EDM or electronic dance music."

OConnor says concert and festival promoters and organizers can't ensure that all attendees are drug-free, but they can take simple steps to make their events as safe as possible for young people, including better education, more parent involvement and adequate security staff.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL