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Irresponsibility Can Kill. A Lesson For All

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Paul Taylor
Paul Taylor

There are a lot of harsh truths that need to be addressed regarding the drug overdose that lead to the death of Perth Big Day Out patron Gemma Thoms. 

For those unaware of the story; 17 year-old apprentice hairdresser Gemma Thoms was waiting to enter the Perth Big Day out when she saw there were drug sniffer dogs patrolling the entrance. She then takes the three ecstasy pills she had on her person all at once to avoid getting arrested. On a hot thirty-six degree day. Gemma then died of an overdose. Now people are looking to place some of the blame on the Western Australian police. 

The fact that blame is being placed on the police smacks of desperation. Let's just go on and play the blame game and blame everyone but Gemma. Gemma's friends later told police that she panicked when she saw the sniffer dogs which triggered her actions. All of a sudden, she lost all rational thought and logic and, with her friends there, decided to take the pills for fear that she would get caught. 

Let's start with her friends. What sort of friends let their other friend take such a large volume of ecstasy all at once on such a hot day? Perhaps Gemma's friends are as inexperienced with drugs as she was, or, they were smart enough to not take any. Either way they should have advised her not to take the drugs, to hide them better or to throw them out. 

Who's responsible for Gemma's death so far? The police for cracking down on people taking illegal drugs and trying to stop overdoses. And her friends.

Ecstasy's danger lays its many varying strengths and brands and it is obvious that Gemma was an inexperienced drug user. She probably thought she was being cool by taking them all at once and looking forward to bragging to her mates about how she took three pills to escape getting arrested then going on to have a good time. 

Here's one that hasn't been looked at. Gemma's parents. If she got so worried and panicky about getting arrested in the first place, there must have been something she feared the most, the trouble she'd get into with her parents? Shame on the family? Losing an inheritance? Too many to list here.

Now we have it, those responsible for Gemma's death are: the WA police, her friends, her parents and the drug. Blame game completed. 

On a less cynical note: others were arrested for drug possession that day. The police were doing their job by trying to stop drug use at the festival and may have saved lives from similar fates by doing so. There are so many lessons here. If you're going to take drugs, try to do it in the safety and comfort of a home with friends you can trust. If you're going to take them out where you might be caught, hide them well. Parents generally don't like drugs but they would rather have you alive and arrested than dead with an autopsy report stating it was an ecstasy overdose. 
Governments are never going to stop young people taking drugs no matter how hard they try. Youths need to be educated about what each drug does, it's harmfulness, how addictive it is, what services in the community help with long term addiction and how addiction can ruin a life. This needs to be taught to them in real terms. They need to be taught that it's OK to take their mate to the hospital if things get that bad.

Parents need to be educated about the fact that drugs are out there, and yes, chances are your child is going to experiment. The best thing a parent can do is advise their child that they are there for them no matter what and that it's OK to make mistakes, but try to be as safe as possible.

But the most important thing youths need to be educated about is how to handle a drug, what to do, eat or drink or what help to seek if they find themselves feeling horrible and scared and just want the high to end.

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