Relationship therapist Dr. Laura Berman, who's appeared on TODAY, and her husband, Samuel Chapman, are opening up about losing their 16-year-old son Sammy, who died from a drug overdose last month, in an effort to help fellow parents.
The 51-year-old recently appeared on the “True Crime Daily” podcast alongside Chapman to candidly discuss their grief and to share more details surrounding their son's death after he obtained drugs through photo messaging app Snapchat.
“We found him on his back having aspirated on his own vomit,” Chapman said on the podcast, recalling what he saw when he entered his son’s room. “I had to resuscitate my own son, or at least try to until the paramedics got here.”
Chapman said that he is “dealing with terrible PTSD” from that moment, explaining, "No one should have to go through that.
The couple’s two other children, Ethan and Jackson, are also struggling following the death of their brother. “They’re doing not that great, I would say," Chapman said.
“One of them gets pretty nervous and is worried about accidentally dying because his brother did, and the other one is getting triggered by all of the murder you see on TV,” he continued. “There’s nothing for it except time and feeling your feelings.”
“I think if there weren’t some PTSD and some lingering nervousness, sadness and anger, we wouldn’t be human.”
The couple is sharing their family's pain as a way to raise awareness of drug dealers connecting with teens on Snapchat. Berman announced on Instagram on Feb. 8 that her son died from an accidental overdose.
“My beautiful boy is gone. 16 years old. Sheltering at home,” she wrote alongside a photo of herself and Sammy smiling. “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 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.”
She said 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,” she continued. “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.”
Berman and Chapman also sat down with NBC News’ Kate Snow to educate fellow parents in a segment aired on TODAY last month. They told Snow that Sammy was feeling isolated throughout the pandemic and wanted to experiment with prescription pills after seeing a brightly colored menu of drugs for sale on Snapchat — "the way a kid would love to see it," as Chapman put it.
“He asked his dad for a cheeseburger,” Berman said. “An hour later, I went into his room because we’d been talking about an internship for the summer that he wanted to do, and he was on the floor, gone.”
They also stressed the importance of parents knowing the passcode for their child’s phone in order to monitor what they're doing on social media.
“When they see our son and can relate to him and see what happened to him, maybe it will sink in," Berman told Snow. "If it helps one kid, it’s worth it.”