drinking, alcohol, binge drinking

National Gordie Day Highlights Dangers of Excessive Drinking

September 26, 2009 08:00 AM
by Anita Gutierrez-Folch
Created by a mother in memory of her son, National Gordie Day aims to educate students, parents and teachers about the hazards of binge drinking and fraternity hazing.

Teaching the Dangers of Alcohol Poisoning

On Sept. 24, high schools and colleges around the country observed the second annual National Gordie Day, an event created by Leslie and Michael Lanahan to honor their late son, Lynn Gordon Bailey Jr. Known to family and friends as Gordie, who died in 2004 from alcohol poisoning as a consequence of fraternity hazing at the University of Colorado, Nancy Churnin reports for The Dallas Morning News.

As Churnin explains, Gordie was made to drink “whiskey and wine as part of a fraternity hazing, was left to ‘sleep it off’ and died of alcohol poisoning.” The alcohol content in his blood was .328, well above the 0.08 percent that signals inebriation.

The Lanahans also founded The Gordie Foundation, an institution that aims to “provide today’s young people with the skills to navigate the dangers of alcohol, binge drinking, peer pressure and hazing,” as the official Web site explains. The observance of National Gordie Day is meant to encourage teenagers and their parents to acknowledge the hazards of excessive drinking, learn about brutal bullying practices such as fraternity hazing and realize that it’s ok to ask for help when needed. Gordie’s death might have been prevented “[i]f only someone had made that call for [him],” his mother told The Dallas Morning News.

The Dallas Morning News reports that according to The Gordie Foundation, “135 institutions—high schools, colleges, fraternities and coalitions from as far away as Jordan and the United Arab Emirates,” were planning events and activities for National Gordie Day. At Southern Methodist University (SMU), the school observed the event in conjunction with National Hazing Prevention Week, sponsored by

“Developmentally at this age, students think they're invincible,” Megan Knapp, health educator at SMU, told The Dallas News. “I think Gordie's story brings it home and makes it more real.”

Background: Binge drinking

The Lanahans are addressing a growing trend. According to data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 1,825 students between 18 and 24 years of age died due to alcohol-related causes in 2005. Research conducted by Ralph W. Hingson, director of NIAAA’s Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research, found that “the proportion of students who reported recent heavy episodic drinking—sometimes called binge drinking, defined as five or more alcoholic drinks on any occasion in the past 30 days—rose from roughly 42 percent to 45 percent.”

In May 2008, the World Health Organization (WHO) began creating a strategy to reduce youth binge drinking, blamed for millions of deaths each year. Binge drinking—the quick ingestion of a large quantity of alcohol to become intoxicated—can have serious side effects such as alcohol poisoning and even death. The WHO’s strategy, set to be published in 2010, could include ideas such as targeting alcohol marketing practices, promoting public awareness campaigns and addressing pricing matters.

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