When one thinks about death by intoxication, several things like alcohol and drug overdose comes to mind. But what if something as common as an LPG cylinder sitting in the backyard became the reason for your child’s death? And that’s exactly what cost 16-year-old Patrick his life, on the 9th of February, 2020.
It was a regular Saturday night, and Paddy (Patrick’s nickname) was over at his friend’s place to hang out. It was around midnight when his father was startled by a loud banging on the door. A group of frantic kids was standing outside.
“You’ve gotta come, Paddy has fallen over”, they told him.
“I’m going OK let’s not panic, let’s not panic, it’s only three streets away,” his father replied.
They jumped into the car and rushed. The ambulance had already reached by that time, and three paramedics were working on Paddy, trying to get his heart started up again. They tried for 45 minutes but to no avail. Adrian had lost his son forever to a deadly act called huffing.
Huffing, also known as sniffing, rexing or chroming, is a deadly type of inhalant use when people inhale chemicals to get intoxicated or “get a high,” according to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation. Common inhalants include:
- aerosol spray,
- chrome-based paint,
- gas from lighters or barbecues.
When his friends were questioned about what happened that night, they told Adrian that Paddy had sucked on a gas bottle off a barbecue. Prior to his son’s death, Adrian had no clue that such a trend even existed and was slowly becoming a popular activity amongst young adults and teens.
“I spoke to a friend, and his son said pretty much everyone from 15 to 21, if they haven’t had a go at it themselves, they’ve been around when it’s going on,” he said.
A Port Lincoln father claimed that he didn’t know how many times Patrick had attempted huffing, but hoped it was his first. He had no idea about how huffing is even done or what the benefits are, but was adamant that the news of this tragedy spreads to other parents so that they could explain to their children the dangers of this and other risk-taking activities.
“It’s going on. It’s happening without us knowing. Be aware of [huffing] and talk to your kids about it. It’s lethal. They’ve got to know that it’s lethal,” he said.
The chief executive of South Australian Network of Drug and Alcohol Services, Michael White, said risk-taking was a big part of adolescence, particularly for young males. He said young people go out to have fun, and that was why it was important to talk to them about risk-taking. When it comes to raising teenagers, parents really need to be in touch with the latest trends, whether negative or positive. After all, if parents aren’t well informed about something, how will they explain to their children about it?
Parents must repeatedly explain their teens the deadly effects of inhalant abuse like gas sniffing through stories like these. This is because huffing or other inhalant abuse may not be perceived as dangerous as alcohol or drugs. In their uninformed folly, teens may dare or provoke each other to try it. Teens must be informed that these acts are lethal and can cost them their life. They should completely reject peer pressure and, moreover, inform authorities if peers or friends are attempting such things.