TV host's grim warning after teen son's shock death

Gillian Wolski
·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·4-min read

A US TV host has shared a grim warning to other parents and carers after her teen son, a "straight-A student," died from a drug overdose during COVID-19 lockdown in their family home.

Dr Laura Berman took to Instagram to announce the passing of her "beautiful boy" Sam on Monday, explaining that the 16-year-old procured 'fentinyl [sic] laced Xanax' from a drug dealer over the social media platform Snapchat.

TV host's grim warning after teen son's shock death. Photo: Instagram/drlauraberman.

A TV host has shared a grim warning after her 16-year-old son died of a drug overdose. Photo: Instagram/drlauraberman.

'Experimentation gone bad'

The popular relationship therapist described her son's death as a case of "experimentation gone bad" and urged others to watch their children closely and monitor their use of Snapchat.

"My beautiful boy is gone. 16 years old. Sheltering at home," Dr Berman captioned a sweet selfie of her with her son.

"A drug dealer connected with him on Snapchat and gave him fentinyl [sic] laced Xanax or Percocet (toxicology will tell) and he overdosed in his room.

"They [drug dealers] do this because it hooks people even more and is good for business but It causes overdose and the kids don’t know what they are taking.

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In this photo illustration the Snapchat logo seen displayed on a smartphone.

Dr Berman claims her son Sam procured "fentinyl [sic] laced Xanax" from a dealer on Snapchat. Photo: Getty Images.

"My heart is completely shattered and I am not sure how to keep breathing. I post this now only so that not one more kid dies.

"We watched him so closely. Straight A student. Getting ready for college. Experimentation gone bad. He got the drugs delivered to the house. Please watch your kids and WATCH SNAPCHAT especially. That’s how they get them."

'He was on the floor'

Dr Berman and her husband, Sam, later made a teary appearance on NBC News during which the Language Of Love podcast host revealed that she was the one who discovered her son's body.

"I went into his room because we had been talking about an internship for the summer that he wanted to do and he was on the floor, gone," she said before breaking down in sobs.

When asked by the NBC presenter if Sam would've known he was ordering fentanyl from the Snapchat drug dealer both parents responded, "No, no way."

Kevin Roy, the Chief Public Policy Officer for US addiction crisis nonprofit Shatterproof, described fentanyl, an opioid used in pain medication, as "50 to 100 times more potent than heroin."

Dr Berman and her husband made a teary appearance on NBC News after their son's tragic passing. Photo: NBC News.
Dr Berman and her husband made a teary appearance on NBC News after their son's tragic passing. Photo: NBC News.

Tributes for Sam

Following the sad news, tributes to Sam from his schoolmates have flooded Dr Berman's account.

"I am a Milken student and I had the pleasure of being in Sam’s positive psychology class for a semester, he was such a sweet soul and I am sending my condolences to you and your family. I am so so sorry," wrote one.

Others offered their condolences to the grieving mother.

"My heart goes out to you, Laura. This is so shattering. You have a community here to support you. Sending love to you & your family!" one wrote.

A spokesperson for Snapchat told Page Six in a statement:

“Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of Samuel Berman Chapman and we are heartbroken by his passing.

“We are committed to working together with law enforcement in this case and in all instances where Snapchat is used for illegal purposes. We have zero tolerance for using Snapchat to buy or sell illegal drugs.”

The spokesperson noted that using Snapchat for “illegal purposes” goes against the company’s community guidelines.

“We are constantly improving our technological capabilities to detect drug-related activity so that we can intervene proactively. … We have no higher priority than keeping Snapchat a safe environment and we will continue to invest in protecting our community.”

Mental health support for yourself or a loved one can be found by calling Lifeline on 13 11 14, Mensline on 1300 789 978, or the Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800.

Online support is available via Beyond Blue.

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