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Mortality at Music Festivals: Academic and Grey Literature for Case Finding

  • Sheila A. Turris (a1) (a2) (a3) and Adam Lund (a1) (a4) (a5)



Deaths at music festivals are not infrequently reported in the media; however, the true mortality burden is difficult to determine as the deaths are not yet systematically documented in the academic literature.


This was a literature search for case examples using academic and gray literature sources, employing both retrospective and prospective searches of media sources from 1999-2014.


The gray literature documents a total of 722 deaths, including traumatic (594/722; 82%) and non-traumatic (128/722; 18%) causes. Fatalities were caused by trampling (n=479), motor-vehicle-related (n=39), structural collapses (n=28), acts of terror (n=26), drowning (n=8), assaults (n=6), falls (n=5), hanging (n=2), and thermal injury (n=2). Non-traumatic deaths included overdoses (n=96/722; 13%), environmental causes (n=8/722; 1%), natural causes (n=10/722; 1%), and unknown/not reported (n=14/722; 2%). The majority of non-trauma-related deaths were related to overdose (75%).

The academic literature documents trauma-related deaths (n=368) and overdose-related deaths (n=12). One hundred percent of the trauma-related deaths reported in the academic literature also were reported in the gray literature (n=368). Mortality rates cannot be reported as the total attendance at events is not known.


The methodology presented in this manuscript confirms that deaths occur not uncommonly at music festivals, and it represents a starting point in the documentation and surveillance of mortality.

Turris SA , Lund A . Mortality at Music Festivals: Academic and Grey Literature for Case Finding. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2017;32(1):5863.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence:Sheila A. Turris, NP, PhD Vancouver Coastal Health 6th Floor, 132 West Esplanade North Vancouver, British Columbia V7M 1A2 Canada E-mail:


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Mortality at Music Festivals: Academic and Grey Literature for Case Finding

  • Sheila A. Turris (a1) (a2) (a3) and Adam Lund (a1) (a4) (a5)


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