After teen son’s deadly overdose, doctor warns parents about social media’s role in buying and selling drugs

Opioid Crisis

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (NewsNation Now) — Two grieving parents are warning others about the dangers of social media after their 16-year-old son overdosed Sunday after taking drugs he bought through another user on Snapchat.

Relationship expert and TV host Dr. Laura Berman and her husband Sam Chapman are speaking out about their heartbreak and what changes they want the platform to make to keep all teens safe.

Berman announced her son Sammy’s death on Facebook Sunday, saying he overdosed in his bedroom after buying fentanyl-laced Xanax from a drug dealer on Snapchat. 

“My heart is completely shattered and I am not sure how to keep breathing,” Berman said in the heartbreaking post.

During an interview with NewsNation on Wednesday, the couple said they are just taking things “one minute at a time, one breath at a time.”

Berman shared some details behind his death, saying it happened Super Bowl Sunday and Sammy had asked his dad for a cheeseburger and was playing video games in his room. About an hour later, she found him on the floor and unresponsive.

“Sam started CPR while I called an ambulance. The paramedics tried for 30 minutes to revive him and were unable,” Berman told NewsNation.

Berman and Chapman and now warning parents about the dangers of social media.

“I thought the worst thing that can happen on Snapchat were nude pictures or saying something inappropriate or something like that,” Berman said. “I had no idea there were drug dealers on there.”

The couple describes Sammy as an amazing kid with great grades, huge dreams and unbelievably sweet and funny.

“He was also a football player and had been stuck inside in front of the computer screen for a year because of COVID. So when these social media platforms do the wrong thing, the COVID-19 pandemic puts a multiplier on it. And that’s what we’re dealing with at this very moment,” Chapman said.

Chapman said Snapchat needs to give parents access to their children’s snaps and not have them dissolve, and they need to cooperate with law enforcement when a young person passes away.

Snapchat said they are working with the Santa Monica Police Department with their investigation, to help them track down the perpetrator.   

Snapchat issued sent a statement saying:

“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. Using Snapchat for illegal purposes is firmly against our community guidelines and we enforce against these violations. We are constantly improving our technological capabilities to detect drug-related activity so that we can intervene proactively. If you witness illegal behavior on Snapchat, please use our in-app tools to report it quickly and confidentially, so we can take action.

“We have no higher priority than keeping Snapchat a safe environment and we will continue to invest in protecting our community.”

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