As crazy as its sounds, balconing isn’t an entirely new phenomenon. Back in 2010, officials in Spain were faced with a sudden surge in the number of deaths and serious injuries occurring as a result of people falling from balconies. When it became evident this was no coincidence, they coined a new term to refer to the problem: balconing.
Balconing refers to the action of jumping from a balcony, either to reach another balcony or to jump into a pool below. This dangerous craze was most problematic on popular holiday islands such as Ibiza and Majorca, where young tourists stay in hotels and holiday resorts. In many cases, those jumping from balconies have been drinking or taking drugs, or a combination of both.
In 2010 there were six recoded deaths and 11 injuries associated with people taking part in the balconing craze. After a serious public awareness campaign those figures dropped off, but it seems that 2018 has so far seen a resurgence in balconing incidents – so far there have been six cases of balconing treated in Majorca, resulting in three deaths.
Faced with the problem of trying to deal with this dangerous trend, public officials in Spain looked at the data to try to profile those taking part in it. The statistics showed than an overwhelming majority of people involved in balconing incidents were men (97 per cent).
What’s more, most of them were British (61 per cent), with Germans and Spanish coming second and third. Finally, the average age of those taking part in balconing was 24 years old. However, earlier in July, a 14-year-old boy from Ireland died after falling from a balcony in Majorca. Reports say ‘he was playing on the balcony’ and fell.
When speaking to the AFP, the head of surgery at the Son Espases hospital in Majorca, Xavier Gonzalez, said, “It’s endemic. It seems that… it’s like an initiation rite for some tourists, whose parents already came here when they were young.” Often, participants are filmed and the videos are then shared online on platforms such as YouTube.
Once again it seems that public health officials and hotel management will have to implement measures to curtail the incidence of balconing casualties. Some hotels have already started giving out pamphlets warning of the dangers of balconing, which aside from death can also result in life-changing injuries such as paralysis.
Authorities in Spain see the balconing craze as part of a wider problem of drunk and dangerous behaviour often carried out by tourists. Other incidents include daring each other to run across highways and other similarly foolish activities with potentially fatal outcomes.
Local authorities in towns like Magaluf have also introduced measures such as banning pub crawls or the sale of alcohol in late-night shops in an effort to curb dangerous, booze-fuelled antics.