Dangerous craze: surgeon warns on balcony-jumping trauma in Balearic Islands

Published July 21, 2018, 2:27 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Agence France-Presse

The number of drunk mostly British and Irish tourists ending up in hospital in Spain’s Balearic Islands after jumping from balconies has spiked this year, a surgeon who has studied the dangerous craze warned Friday.

Drunken tourists, mostly from Britain and Ireland, to Spain's Balearic islands have raised security concerns over a dangerous craze known as "balconing" (AFP/Manila Bulletin)
Drunken tourists, mostly from Britain and Ireland, to Spain’s Balearic islands have raised security concerns over a dangerous craze known as “balconing” (AFP/Manila Bulletin)

The so-called “balconing” craze, which had eased over the last two years after an awareness campaign, has now taken off again in the Mediterranean archipelago of Magaluf and Ibiza fame, said Juan Jose Segura, a surgeon at the Son Espases hospital in Palma de Majorca.

“Balconing” refers to people who throw themselves from the balcony of their room into pools or to get to another balcony, most of them very drunk or perhaps high on drugs, sometimes smashing onto the ground with tragic consequences.

It’s become a form of daring challenge during a hedonistic holiday and is particularly popular among British and Irish tourists, Segura said.

While he does not have definitive figures, Segura said his trauma center had treated at least six cases of “balconing” so far this year by British and Irish tourists and one French national.

Three of them died while the rest were very seriously injured, some paralyzed.

It marks a significant rise from 2016 and 2017, which he said saw a total of six cases and no deaths.

“It seems this year isn’t going to be like the previous years but will resume the initial 2010-2015 trend that saw 10 to 15 cases every summer,” said Segura who has authored a study on “balconing” trauma.

His figures however only concern those treated at Son Espases hospital, meaning there were likely more such cases in the archipelago.

Just this week alone, three people fell from their balconies in the Balearic Islands — although police are still investigating the incidents and it’s unlikely all of them were cases of “balconing”.

‘Prime of life’

On Wednesday, a 14-year-old boy from Ireland died after falling from a balcony of a hotel in Majorca where he was staying with his mother, the Guardia Civil police said.

It appears “he was playing on the balcony” and fell, a police spokesman said.

The same day, a man in his early twenties fell from a balcony in his holiday resort on the island of Ibiza, and is hospitalised in serious condition.

British media have identified him as Tolga Aramaz, a British Labour councillor in London.

It is unclear why he fell.

On Friday, emergency services said they attended to a man also in his early twenties who fell from a balcony in Es Pujols on the island of Formentera.

Police and the Spanish government’s office in the Balearic Islands were not able to give the total number of “balconing” cases this year.

Segura, who as a surgeon sees “a lot of dramatic cases due to illnesses like cancer with older people,” said injuries from “balconing” were particularly distressing.

“It’s really shocking to see a young person who has absolutely no problems, who was in the prime of life, who had thousands of projects ahead, a life to live, to suddenly die or be left totally incapable to do anything for themselves for the rest of their life.”