Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Rave Rant

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on September 4, 2013

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“Most of the dead were in their teens and early 20s, according to the records. The youngest was 15-year-old Sasha Rodriguez, who overdosed at Insomniac’s Electric Daisy Carnival in 2010 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.”

Thousands of people gather together for an all-night concert with dangerous drugs being passed around, like water, making the timbers there for a fire, but it seems to me children had to die to let people know this was dangerous. I have been anxious about raves for years, hearing about the crowded conditions, lack of sleep, and heavy drug use. I have worried about adolescent after adolescent who attends these events, knowing that the ingredients for disaster are there. Sure enough, children have died, heads have rolled, and raves continue. I know we live in a free country, and so we are not about to legislate the freedom to go to concerts, but having adolescents in a large crowded space, not having good impulse control, is a recipe for disaster. I am glad that New York and Los Angeles and Dallas have closed their venues for raves, but I am saddened that these young people had to die to make that happen. I think about Sasha Rodriguez, not knowing her, but imagining that she was a young kid who, quite accidentally, got into harm’s way, which in other venues would have given her a bad headache, or a close encounter with a toilet, but given the dangers of a rave, resulted in death. How sad this must be for her family, her friends, and for her.

4 Responses to “Rave Rant”

  1. Jon said

    As sad as these deaths are, one may ask a stark analytical question, “What is the background rate?” What is the rate of deaths of those who are concert goers compared to those from that age group who are partaking of drugs? It is most likely that these attendees would be using drugs irrespective of the Rant. How much of a spike in the mortality tables are caused by drugs in general? Who much of a spike in these same tables (perhaps measured in deaths per hundred thousand people) happened in Raves?

    Each death is sad. In 1624 the poet John Donne famously wrote:

    Each man’s death diminishes me,
    For I am involved in mankind.
    Therefore, send not to know
    For whom the bell tolls,
    It tolls for thee.

    So, I now turn the tables around. How many deaths are happening, but do not have bells tolling as loudly, since they were not at a Rave?

    • Thanks, Jon. Yes, of course, we need data to understand if there is a rise in teenage deaths as a result of these raves, and yes, I do not know these numbers. What I do know, though, is that hearing about these raves for many years has made me have a strong hunch that there would be tragic deaths, as a result. Sadly, and with thanks to the LA Times, these deaths have happened and have been exposed through excellent reporting. Thanks for bringing Mr. Donne into the discussion, as these bells do toll for all of us. The internet has helped us keep these bells ringing.

  2. Shelly said

    I feel for the families, who are probably powerless to stop the kids from participating in such dangerous behaviors. I know that I warn my teenagers all the time and they still manage to do things that take my breath away. The only solution is to simply not permit the raves. No question about it. Otherwise, people will die.

    • Yes, the governing bodies do have an obligation to protect teenagers from harming themselves, but the profit motive gets in the way. Sadly, some tragedy needs to happen to trump the greed. Thanks.

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