_ Rave deaths
Further ecstasy-related tragedies could be averted by a change in the way the Scottish legal system reports the circumstances of deaths, according to workers in projects which promote safer drug use.
Post-mortem results in Scotland only state that a death is ‘drug related’ without specifying the actual cause of death. In England and Wales the cause of death is specified. A majority of the deaths that have occurred south of the border where ecstasy use has been implicated, have been a result of heatstroke: the victim’s core temperature has risen to the point where they have literally boiled to death.
‘The system seems to be out of sync with the needs of everybody concerned,’ says Willy McBride who works with the Edinburgh community based organisation CHEW 2000 which distributes information about safer drug use. ‘Where is the investigation into the situation of what actually happened? The situational stuff is so crucial: Where did it happen? At what time? What else had the person been taking?’
Ecstasy use has become a ‘youth culture, not sub-culture, a leisure activity not a trend’ according to Lifeline, a Manchester based safe drug project. If this is the case, then the estimated half a million people in Britain who take ecstasy every weekend need to be aware of the dangers to which they are subjecting themselves. If a tragedy occurs because of a particular set of circumstances then users will not be able to protect themselves by avoiding those circumstances.
The potential for more tragedies is further exacerbated by the drugs laws in Holland, where most ecstasy sold in Scotland is manufactured. UK drug laws proscribe chemicals by type, so that ecstasy and any so-called ‘analogue’ chemicals are all illegal. However, in Holland each new analogue has to be individually added to the list of illegal chemicals. Dutch drug manufacturers get round this by finding new chemicals which they can then legally make in Holland and subsitute for ecstasy. While the effects of ecstasy are well documented, the effects of these newly designed drugs are not known and could be lethal. (Thom Dibdin)
The List 23 September—(r ()ctober 199-1
Mental illness is a major problem that
is being swept under the carpet by
sufferers and those around them.
1 mental health charities are clairuing.
, One group. the Mental Health
1 Foundation. says that as many as one in
four people will suffer from a
j psychiatric problem each year
The London based charity. SANE. has
launched a cheap-rate helpline for
mental illness sufferers and those around them. claiming that one person in every hundred will suffer from schizophrenia — one of the most common psychiatric disorders. which can appear without warning often in
young people aged between 18 and 25.
Compared to other forms of mental illness. schizophrenia carries a heavy stigma. partly because relatively little is known about the illness. The fact that it often hits young people. according to Bridget Sleddon of SANF, could be because the early to mid twenties tends to be the age at which young people tend to take control of their lives which can bring on extreme stress and confusion.‘
Schizophrenia can be a devastating illness that can he treated but not cured; medication may help a patient to handle the symptoms but can not provide a permanent solution. ‘Schizophrcnia is a horrible illness. people who are suffering can not trust what's happening to them.‘ explains Dr Janette Gardner ofthe National Schizophrenia y
Fellowship in Scotland. ‘\\'e can estimate that 25,000 people in Edinburgh and 45.000 in Glasgow are f suffering from schizophrenia at this
‘ present time.‘
Under the Care in the Community scheme many schizophrenics have ended up on the streets or in prison. Many young people suffering from the illness can slip through the net and find themselves living on the streets and in trouble.
According to Linda Sornerville of the Mental Health Foundation there is still a long way to go in terms of the public - perception of schizophrenia. ‘Because so many people read the tabloids. many people believe that everybody with a
mental health problem who is out in the community is going to be a threat to them.‘ she says. Nothing could be
further from the truth. 9‘) per cent of people with mental health problems are already with us in the community. ()ne person with a mental health problem will affect many lives round about. If people know about it. there are all sorts of coping mechanisms which they can
put in place to help them deal with it.‘ 1 (Neil .\1c1ntoslr& Lila Rawlings)
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bar and cafe space.
' Rumours that Tramway was about to abandon the kian of adventurous but
I costly programme that has put it on the ; artistic map. have been rife ever since
. July. when performance director Neil
Wallace left to pursue a freelance
career. There was also speculation that the increased use of the city centre Fruitmarket. another large industrial space. was an indication that the Department of Performing Arts was preparing to case itself out of Tramway.
‘It is absolutely not the case that Tramway will be neglected.‘ said a spokesperson from the department. ‘The future is very exciting and the principle is very much the same: a broad range of cutting-edge performance and visual art. Tramway is still the beacon and there is a commitment to maintain the quality of work.’
Changes are under way. however. as the department centralises the programming of all venues under its control. No spring programme has been announced at Tramway yet. but it is understood that the range and quantity of work will be extended. The refurbishment grant. from the Foundation For Sport and the Arts. has enabled the creation of a new visual art space called the Project Roonr. There is also a desire to capitalise on the success of April's Sound City by programming more music events.
Performing Arts director Bob Palmer is said to be planning to invite a series of high-profile prograrnrrrers. probably including Neil Wallace. to schedule short seasons of work that would both maintain Tramway‘s reputation and broaden its appeal. (Mark Fisher)
_ : New way for Tramway
Glasgow's Graven Images is the company behind a new-look Tramway bar
Speculation about the future of
Glasgow‘s Tramway has been quelled
by the announcement of a £100.000
; cash injection that has brought about a
j revamped entrance. foyer. box office.
I STOP THE EVICTION The Edinburgh
Unemployed Workers Centre have been
issued with an eviction court summons
for 16 Sept. A day of demonstration and activities including an evening event with James Kelman and Irvine Welsh will take place on 1 October. Assemble at 3pm. Barony Street (off Broughton Street). For more details 031 557 0718. I WOMEN’S COMEDY NETWORK need stand-ups. drama queens. writers. singers. and all female purveyors of amusing thoughts. No experience required. just a wicked sense of humour. Meet at Leith Library. Edinburgh on Tuesday 27 September at 7pm. Details on 031 553 5166. I THE POST OFFICE COMMUNITY CARE AWARDS Sixteen awards of up to £1000 plus one award of £5000 will be made to voluntary organisations working in the following areas: Urban and Rural Environment. including conservation and recycling. Mental I’lealth/ I-landicap. Physical Disability and Deprivation. The closing date for applications is 30 November. Details on 031 228 7300. I THE STEVE RETSON PROJECT A new health service aimed at meeting the needs of gay and bisexual men has been launched at Glasgow Royal Infirmary. A variety of services are available from free condoms. HIV and AIDS counselling. check ups and vaccinations for l-lepB. The service will operate every Tuesday evening. 5.30—8pm. at the GU Medicine Dept. Queen Elizabeth Building. Glasgow Royal Infirmary. Details on 041 552 3535 ext 5581.