Have you ever considered what is in the food or drink you are eating or swallowing? You may think of calories, protein, fat – but what else do you think of? Do you eat food that is organic, do you avoid preservatives? We tend to think a lot about our food if we stick to meal plans or certain lifestyles and we try to avoid substances in our food that can cause harm. It could be that some things fly under the radar. Caffeine is one of these substances that could be dangerous, but is also something we don’t take much notice of. It’s in our cola, our energy drinks and our tea. It’s in almost everything we consume.

Rather worryingly, one breaking story confirms some of the worst fears about caffeine. Last month, a sixteen-year-old high school student from the state of South Carolina passed away following a collapse in a class at Spring Hill High School on the 26th of April. Davis Allen Cripe, the student, collapsed at half two in the afternoon and was pronounced dead just over an hour later. What had caused this tragedy? This accelerated and spontaneous death of a healthy teenager? This phrase is a real cliche – but the truth will shock you.

Caffeine caused Cripe’s death. His collapse during a class and his subsequent death were caused by a cardiac event brought on by a caffeine intake. This cardiac event caused an arrhythmia, which is when an abnormal heart rhythm takes over the beat of the heart and affects the blood flow to organs including the brain, heart, lungs and liver. This was discovered by the coroner of the County, Gary Watts – who announced this news just yesterday. Cripes had passed out due to a lack of blood flow, and his body was not able to recover from the collapse. An autopsy on Cripe showed no signs of heat defect or any other issues that could have led to his collapse. There was no weakness in any area.

The most shocking revelation of this episode was the quantity of Cripe’s consumption of caffeine. It was less abnormal, and more normal. In just under two hours, Cripe had ingested a cafe latte, a large diet soda, and an energy drink. This isn’t an outrageous figure, especially not for a high school teen. That’s three drinks in a two hour period.

Watts stated that Cripe’s death was nowhere near an overdose and that Cripe passed away following an ingestion of a legal substance. If we take a look at the caffeine levels in a drink like Monster Energy, we can see the dangerous levels of caffeine in a readily accessible container. Young kids can get into these and drink a normal amount and in awful circumstances, they can suffer in the same way as Davis Cripe.

What we can learn from this incident is that we need to be aware of whatever we choose to consume and the true dangers of a substance like caffeine. Davis Cripe didn’t overdose, he was affected by caffeine in a way that anyone of us could be affected.