NBC 7 – WJHG
Reporter: Mike Vasilinda
The suicide of a seven year old Florida foster kid has state lawmakers enraged and looking for answers. Gabriel Myers was on several mind-altering medications when he hung himself in Broward County this April.
His death is shedding light on the overwhelming number of foster youth being prescribed psychotropic drugs and could lead to legislation to fix the problem.
No one knows what was going through seven year-old Gabriel Myers head when he decided to hang himself on April 16th. But experts believe the foster kid had nowhere to turn, and his actions were influenced by a slew of prescribed drugs.
State Senator Ronda Storms is heading a committee in search of answers.
“I can’t accept or believe that a little child can’t be reached after terrible things have been done to him, except by drugging him, and drugging him, and drugging him.”
Gabriel’s death spawned an investigation, uncovering an alarming trend. Three thousand, or about 15 percent, of Florida’s foster kids are being prescribed mind-altering medication.
There are even kids in the system as young as two years old on the drugs. Robin Rosenberg is a foster parent and advocates for children. She says part of the problem is foster kids rarely have stability and they switch doctors frequently.
“If the child is in a group home for example there will be a therapist that is attached to the group home. The say the child goes to live with grandma, that therapist doesn’t follow the child as the child goes to Medicaid and the community.”
The Department of Children and Families is responsible for the care of foster kids. Still many rights, like signing off on a doctor’s prescription, remain in the hands of the biological parents.
George Sheldon is DCF Secretary.
“Parents will sign anything when a child is being taken away. I don’t think that is the appropriate gauge.”
State Senators are considering requiring a third party to approve any prescriptions being give to foster kids.
The senate committee will also consider legislation to improve communication between psychiatrists, who prescribe drugs, and psychologists, who counsel patients.
Lawmakers believe opening the lines of communication between the doctors will lead to more counseling and fewer prescriptions.