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Tragic Party Trick: Girl, 14, Dies After Inhaling Helium

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I can remember being a young child, blowing up balloons and then inhaling the helium. It wasn’t to get high, that’s for sure, but it made my voice sound squeaky like Mickey Mouse. It was a great party trick! But a disturbing new trend among teens isn’t quite as innocent: they’re inhaling helium straight from a tank to get high. And now a 14-year-old Oregon girl has died as a result.

Ashley Long told her parents she was going to a slumber party last weekend. In a typical case of teenage rebellion, she instead headed to a party thrown by one of her friend’s older sister at her condo. There was alcohol and pot – along with a pressurized tank of helium that everyone was inhaling.

“My daughter didn’t want to do it. It was peer pressure,” said Long’s stepfather Justin Earp. “They put a mask up to her face. They said it would be okay. ‘It’s not gonna hurt you. It’ll just make you laugh and talk funny.'” She then passed out and later died at the hospital from an obstructed blood vessel.

Experts say it’s very rare to die from inhaling helium, though Long’s tragic story proves that it is possible. And so parents should be speaking to their children about the dangers of all substances beyond the obvious ones. What makes Long’s case so tragic is how easily it could have been avoided.

Police, meanwhile, have arrested 27-year-old Katherine McAloon – who lives in the condo – for providing alcohol and marijuana to minors. Earp said that Long and her friends had four wine coolers each in the car on the way to the party and four mixed drinks while at the party – and that’s when they started passing around the helium.

Long’s family has set up a foundation called Ashley’s Hope to get the message across about the dangers of inhaling helium.