In March 2014, newspapers nationwide carried accounts of the tragic death of an 18-year-old student at Arizona State University who was apparently intoxicated, lost her balance and plunged from the tenth floor balcony of an apartment complex. The woman earlier attended an off-campus party that a banned fraternity had sponsored. The authorities told the press that the party encouraged binge drinking because those who attended paid $30 for unlimited drinking. However, the fraternity admitted men for free if they brought three women to the party. (The legal age for drinking in Arizona is 21.) Sadly, a surveillance video captured the woman unsteady on her feet as she walked through the apartment lobby, rode in an elevator and walked through a hallway to a friend’s apartment. Aware of her inebriated state, her friends took her inside to lie down, and left to attend another party in the apartment complex. After they left, the woman walked onto the balcony, straddled the railing, lost her balance and fell to her death.
This incident is not isolated, particularly when it comes to college parties and the availability of alcohol to legal and underage drinkers. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported on its website that 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from unintentional injuries from drinking alcohol. The institute reported a number of other scary statistics as well involving college students and heavy drinking, including assault and date rape.
The woman who plunged to her death was more than a statistic. Besides being pretty, she was president of the student body of the high school where she graduated from in Kansas. Her loved ones lost a daughter, a niece, a granddaughter and the like. Her death cut short a life full of promise. As parents, you cannot control the behavior of your adult children if they attend college away from home. College is a rite of passage where young men and women drink to have fun and seek a release from the pressures they face. Some ways we can protect your kids include informing them of the following:
- If you want to party, avoid going alone, even if the party takes place on campus.
- Know your limits when it comes to drinking, or to seek professional help if drinking gets out of hand.
- Always have a designated driver.
- Travel in pairs, and watch out for each other.
If your child is injured or killed as a consequence of heavy drinking, work closely with law enforcement to make sure those criminally at fault are brought to justice. If others face civil liability for the fate of your children, consult a personal injury attorney to further assist you obtaining the compensation you deserve. While nothing can ever replace the loss of a child, your actions may serve those in the future and prevent accidents like these from happening again.