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The evening began as "fun" for a 17-year-old teen with a fake ID who excessively drank and partied with friends until well after midnight. At approximately 4:00 a.m., the teen climbed out on a window ledge of the 25th floor of a Manhattan apartment to take a photo and plummeted to her death.

Her lifeless body laid on the 3rd floor ledge after people across the street saw her fall. The fatality appears to be an accident, although police believe as many a dozen people were still partying when the girl fell and suffered a traumatic and fatal head injury. No one in attendance is, as yet, talking about what happened.

Unfortunately, the story leading to this tragedy is not a rare occurence. It happens far too frequently to young, inexperienced drinkers, who engage in extreme binge drinking, and get far too intoxicated to function; friends incorrectly assume that they are so drunk that they have passed out.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, about 5,000 kids under the age of 21 die every year as a result of underage drinking; three out of four high school students reporting that they have consumed alcohol at least once. The effects of teenage drinking are serious. Often, it will become a “gateway” to drugs or other illegal activities. Teen alcohol use or abuse may lead to dependence as an adult. Drinking and driving account for 40% of all fatal auto accidents that involve teens. Alcohol impairs judgment; impaired judgment leadd to risk-taking behavior, and, risk-taking behavior will often end tragically, as happened in this tragic case.

Would you be able spot alcohol poisoning in your teen? According to the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, these are the critical symptoms of acute alcohol poisoning. If someone you know experiencing any of these symptoms, this is not something a victim will “sleep off.” It is imperative that you call 9-1-1 immediately!

· Mental confusion, stupor, coma, or person cannot be roused

· Vomiting

· Seizures

· Slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute)

· Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths)

· Hypothermia (low body temperature), bluish skin color, paleness

Fortunately, there are things that can be done to decrease teenage alcohol use and abuse. Studies show that teens whose parents talk to them about alcohol and drugs are 42% less likely to use those substances than teens whose parents fail to discuss the issues with them. When you talk with your teen, remind him/her that it is unsafe, illegal, and irresponsible to drink alcohol. Inform your teen that if he/she are with someone who has had too much to drink, cannot be aroused, is breathing slowly and/or is cold to the touch, immediate help must be summoned. If the person is vomiting, keep him/her upright or laying on his/her side with his/her head to one side. Someone should stay with the person, watching for signs of choking. As unpleasant as this may be, your teen could save a life. The legal consequence of underage drinking pales in comparison to losing a friend forever.

Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions for litigation plaintiffs when necessities of life litigation fundingis needed to help sustain their personal injury cases to a just conclusion. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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