After model's binge drinking death, coroner warns on danger of drinking games
What started as a drinking game turned into a tragedy.
Motivated by money - $50 for each shot of hard liquor consumed - a model from South Korea downed 18 shots of cognac at a KTV lounge near Clarke Quay.
Ms Kim Seoa, 27, who was on holiday here, later passed out before friends realised she was not breathing and her lips had turned purple.
She was taken to Singapore General Hospital (SGH), where she died a day later, on May 13, from acute alcohol intoxication leading to respiratory depression.
Ms Kim's blood alcohol level was 310mg per 100ml, which is almost four times the legal limit for drink driving.
Yesterday, State Coroner Marvin Bay ruled her death a "tragic misadventure" that provided "a cautionary note on the dangers of binge drinking in the course of a drinking game".
He said: "There is a considerable body of research that drinking games stealthily deliver large quantities of alcohol into the drinker's body."
As a person's judgment becomes impaired from the alcohol, he becomes unable to gauge how much alcohol he has consumed.
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Mr Bay added that binge drinking could lead to harm or even death from alcohol poisoning.
A person in a stupor could also fatally choke on his own vomit or collapse into a position where he is unable to breathe.
"Our courts have dealt with cases where binge drinking, within the context of drinking games being played, have been the precursor to subsequent acts of sexual assault," he said.
Ruling out foul play, Mr Bay said Ms Kim had drunk the alcohol voluntarily "in the heat of the moment".
Ms Kim, who had a low tolerance for alcohol, drank about 18 shots in total, Mr Bay said.
The game lasted about half an hour and she was seen sleeping on a sofa in a sitting position before lying down. Someone later spotted vomit coming out of her nose and mouth and a friend cleaned her up.
A KTV lounge operations manager performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation before paramedics arrived and rushed her to SGH.
'Excessive drinking can cause heart failure'
Excessive drinking can cause the heart to beat irregularly and even fail, says Dr Desmond Wai, a gastroenterologist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre.
Other problems could include stomach burns, pancreas inflammation and long-term liver issues, he said.
"If you are a poor drinker, but must drink, it's advisable to go with a friend who can watch out for you if your judgment becomes impaired", he said.
"Stop after one glass and see the effects first. Just because others can drink well doesn't mean you can and have to do so."
Binge drinking is defined as having four or more alcoholic drinks in one session for women and five or more for men.
According to medical guidelines, Asian women generally have lower blood volumes and lower levels of enzymes to break down the alcohol in their system and should have just one drink a day.
This equates to a can of beer, a glass of wine or a shot of hard liquor. Men generally can take twice as much.