A teenager has died after taking an unknown substance at FOMO Festival in Sydney, bringing the number of deaths at music events since September to six.
The ABC reports that the 19-year-old woman presented at the medical tent at the festival, which was headlined by Nicki Minaj, and was taken by ambulance to Westmead Hospital, where she later died.
The death follows that of two young people at Defqon.1 in Sydney in September, one death and two critical hospitalisations of Lost Paradise revellers in December, and a death following Sydney rave Knockout Games Of Destiny.
(The death of a young man attending Beyond The Valley was initially reported as drug-related, but is now thought to be from a snake bite.)
That’s five young people dead now, all at events in a state where the government refuses absolutely point blank to consider an evidence-based harm minimisation measure supported by health experts, including the Australian Medical Association, and a majority of Australians.
We shouldn’t be counting the summer festival death toll like car crashes or natural disasters.
Pill testing can’t guarantee that nobody will ever die or OD again – knowing what you’re taking isn’t the same as knowing how your body will react to it, and there’s still plenty that can go wrong.
Thanks to years of testing data in the UK and the single legal testing trial done in the ACT in 2018, we know that it works.
When their drugs are proven to be not what they thought they were buying – not “safe” or “unsafe”, just “not MDMA” – it can not only discourage people from taking the dodgy stuff they’ve got, but think twice about how much they’ll take in future, or whether they’ll take it again at all.
Testing puts young people in front of medical professionals they know they can trust, before they take drugs, before something goes wrong. 94% of punters say they’d use the service if it were available; but for all five of the young people who have died in the past five months, it was not.
With NSW Labor saying they’re putting pill testing back on the table this election, and a rally taking place in Sydney next week in support of the life-saving measure, we can only hope this is the last festival season where young people are paying for one dumb decision with their lives.