The Tragic And Unusual 2017 Death Of Jasmine Beever

The story of Rapunzel and her ultra-long hair is a cherished fairy tale. However, as WebMD explains, it also inspired the name of an unusual condition called Rapunzel Syndrome. Simply put, individuals with this ailment compulsively consume their own hair, known as trichophagia. One such person who suffered from Rapunzel Syndrome was Jasmine Beever, a 16-year-old from Skegness, England. Family friend Donna Marshall stated (via Lincolnshire Live), "Jasmine was amazing. She was one of those kids where she would make a sad face in the room smile. She was so bubbly."

However, Marshall also noted on Facebook that Beever had been "sucking and chewing her hair for years" (via the Daily Mail). Horrifically, this had unexpected consequences for the young woman. For her, Rapunzel Syndrome turned deadly. In September 2017, Beever, who was a student, fell ill. Marshall told Lincolnshire Live, "Jasmine collapsed at college, she went home to bed and then later she came out in blotches and the rest is sad news." Beever was transported to the hospital where she was resuscitated for 15 minutes, per The Independent. Nevertheless, Jasmine Beever died, leaving her friends and family shocked by her sudden death.

A hairball caused an ulcer in Jasmine Beever's stomach

According to Lincolnshire Live, Jasmine Beever died shortly after attending her grandfather's funeral. Friend Donna Marshall told the publication that Beever's family was devastated. She said, "It's just heartbreaking — to bury your own daughter is one thing but to be going through it so soon after losing your dad, you can't comprehend it." As for what caused Beever's death, an autopsy revealed that peritonitis was to blame. Per the Mayo Clinic, peritonitis is caused by an infection that leads to the inflammation of tissues in the abdomen. In Beever's case, eating her hair formed a hairball in her stomach.

The Independent reports that the hairball produced an ulcer that burst and triggered her organs to shut down. Ultimately, this caused Beever's premature death. WebMD adds that individuals with Rapunzel Syndrome can have hairballs so big that they can reach the small intestine. Furthermore, it can take years for health issues to develop and can include stomach pain, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, and more. Beyond this, hairballs can cause stomach blockages and holes in the small intestine. An article in the journal Acta Radiologica Open explains that surgery is the best option to remove a large hairball in someone suffering from this condition.

Why do people eat their hair?

Sadly, Jasmine Beever is not the only teen to lose their life or suffer health issues stemming from Rapunzel Syndrome. In 2019, Mexico News Daily reported that Katia Jatziri, a 15-year-old girl from the Mexican state of Coahuila, died from septic shock from a blockage caused by a hairball. The hairball weighed a kilo and a half or over two pounds. It's believed that Jatziri had been eating her hair over a span of 10 years. Per a report in BMJ Case Reports (via the New York Post), an unnamed 17-year-old woman with Rapunzel Syndrome received surgery in 2021 to remove a foot-and-a-half-long hairball from her stomach. The hairball was discovered after the woman complained of abdominal pain.

According to WebMD, Rapunzel Syndrome is often associated with trichotillomania, a condition where individuals compulsively pull out their own hair. Both afflictions are linked to psychological problems and mental health conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, anorexia, ADHD, and more. Furthermore, experiencing trauma, abuse, and grief are also connected to Rapunzel Syndrome. Live Science reports that up to 20% of people in the United States suffer from trichophagia. As hair is hard to digest, consuming large amounts of hair usually leads to the formation of a hairball and subsequent symptoms to form. However, Rapunzel Syndrome can be treated with behavioral therapy and medication.