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FDA HEARINGS 2004: PSYCHOPHARMACOLOGIC DRUGS ADVISORY COMMITTEE WITH THE PEDIATRIC SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE ANTI-INFECTIVE DRUGS ADVISORY COMMITTEE
DR. RUDORFER: Thank you.
We are to speaker 57. Jeff Avery
MR. AVERY: Hello. My name is Jeff Avery. My 16-year-old stepson, Brandon Ferris, committed suicide on July 22nd, 2001, about three weeks after he began taking Zoloft. Brandon was a bright and socially outgoing teen who got along well with others. He was a black-belt instructor in Tai Kwon Do, active in the church’s youth group, and held a part-time job. His mother home-schooled Brandon and worked at the Tai Kwon Do School, so she was very active in Brandon’s activities.
In June of 2001, Brandon expressed that he was feeling down, and not his usual energetic self. It was decided that he should take some time off and see a counselor.
The counselor suggested that he see a doctor. The doctor, who found no physical problems, prescribed Zoloft.
Sunday, July 22nd, Brandon and I went to church. On the way home Brandon volunteered to make a cake for his mother’s birthday. He asked permission to go on a boating trip. He spent the rest of the day with his friends and an older brother Randy.
When he came home from his youth group meeting at 9:15, he seemed fine. At 9:45 he asked his mother about the boating trip. At 10:30 he went to check his e-mail, but his brother was using the computer. At 11 o’clock, he was found in his room hung by the neck from a belt in his closet.
We called 911, we performed CPR to no avail. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Reflecting on the day’s events, I could not detect any indication of forethought to suicide. However, later conversations with others close to Brandon inferred that he may have been having problems with the medication.
The obvious question is what happened in Brandon’s mind between 10:30 and 10:45.
This was not the end of unspeakable tragedy. Five months later, Barbara, unable to cope with the loss of her youngest son, took her life.
Since then I have collaborated with Brandon’s biological father, Dan Ferris, to obtain information that would point to the cause of Brandon’s death. We believe, after having done much research, that the drug Zoloft had a causal effect in Brandon’s final actions.