TV host and sex therapist Dr. Laura Berman's 16-year-old son, Samuel, died of an overdose of drugs that he obtained via Snapchat, Dr. Berman announced on social media on Monday.
Berman, the host of "In the Bedroom With Dr. Laura Berman" on the Oprah Winfrey Network, said Samuel overdosed in his bedroom on Xanax laced with fentanyl that he purchased from a drug dealer he connected with on the social media app.
'My Beautiful Boy is Gone'
"My beautiful boy is gone. 16 years old. Sheltering at home," Berman wrote in an emotional Instagram post. "A drug dealer connected with him on Snapchat and gave him fentinyl (sic) laced Xanax and he overdosed in his room... My heart is completely shattered and I am not sure how to keep breathing."
Santa Monica police confirmed that they responded to a 911 call of an unresponsive teen at about 4 p.m. on Sunday. The boy was pronounced dead at the scene and there were no signs of foul play, according to police. Preliminary investigation revealed prescription drugs were believed to be involved.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that shares similarities with morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH). Synthetic drugs, such as fentanyl, are the most common drugs involved in overdose deaths.
'Please Watch Your Kids and Watch Snapchat Especially'
Dr. Berman noted that Samuel was a straight-A student and that she and her husband monitored him "so closely." She added that the teenager was gearing up for college before consuming the drugs, which he had delivered to the house.
She also urged other parents to keep an eye on their own children's social media activity in order to avoid similar tragic incidents.
"I post this now only so that not one more kid dies," she wrote. "Please watch your kids and WATCH SNAPCHAT especially. That's how they get them."
Snapchat Issues Statement
In the wake of Samuel's death, a spokesperson for Snapchat said the company was "heartbroken" and committed to working with law enforcement in its investigation of the overdose.
"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," the spokesperson said.
"We have no higher priority than keeping Snapchat a safe environment and we will continue to invest in protecting our community."