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Premier hopes teens learn from Big Day Out drug death

Posted February 2, 2009 19:19:00
Updated February 2, 2009 19:30:00

It is believed the girl took several ecstasy tablets at the festival.

It is believed the girl took several ecstasy tablets at the festival. (ABC)

Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett says he hopes the death of a 17-year-old girl from a suspected drug overdose at Perth's Big Day Out music festival serves as a lesson to other young people.

The girl collapsed at the music festival at the Claremont Showgrounds yesterday and was taken to a first aid post, before being transferred to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, where she died early this morning.

Friends of the teenager told police she had taken an ecstasy tablet before she arrived at the event.

They said she then took more tablets as she waited in line because she was frightened she would be searched by police.

According to the National Drug Research Institute, 4 per cent of WA teenagers aged between 14 and 19 have reported taking ecstasy in the past year.

Mr Barnett says his thoughts are with the girl's family and he hopes the tragedy will warn other young people away from dangerous drugs.

"I'd extend my sympathy to her family and friends; [it's] a tragedy, sadly another drug tragedy, and the issue is the use of drugs," he said.

"This Government will be bringing in legislation relating to drugs and we will take a tough line on drugs for the simple reason to try and stop tragedies like that happening.

"I hope particularly young people are starting to get the message that drugs kill."

Police are now investigating how the teenager got the drugs.

Police with sniffer dogs were positioned at the Claremont Showgrounds train station during the event and more than 70 people who attended the event have been charged with drug-related offences.

Big Day Out promoter Ken Knight has also offered his condolences to the girl's family.

"[Our] heartfelt support to this young lady's friends and family, it's a complete tragedy," he said.

Mr Knight said the event had a strict anti-drugs policy and there was nothing organisers could have done to prevent the death.

"We put in the best harm management plans that we can possibly can: St John [Ambulance Service] are here, the police are here, crowd controllers are here, everyone's aware it does happen in society, it's just a tragedy," he said.

Steve Allsop from the National Drug Research Institute will not speculate on how the teenager died but says the heat could have been a factor, with Perth recording a maximum temperature of 36 degrees Celsius yesterday.

"Ecstasy itself can uncouple the body's ability to regulate its temperature," he said.

"If you've got a very hot day then of course what can happen is people's body temperature substantially increases, sometimes resulting in coma and sometimes in death."

Tags: arts-and-entertainment, entertainment-events, carnivals-and-festivals, community-and-society, drugs-and-substance-abuse, government-and-politics, states-and-territories, law-crime-and-justice, crime, drug-offences, wa, claremont-6010, perth-6000


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