Gabriel Myers Investigation

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
State officials investigating whether 7-year-old suicide victim was given mind-altering drug
By Jon Burstein
April 24, 2009

MARGATE – State officials are investigating whether a 7-year-old boy who hanged himself in his Margate foster home had been given a powerful, mind-altering drug in violation of Florida law.

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Three weeks before his April 16 suicide, Gabriel Myers was prescribed the drug Symbyax, which is a combination of the generic forms of the anti-depressant Prozac and the anti-psychosis drug Zyprexa, according to state Department of Children & Families records released Friday night.

But there was no court order in place for Gabriel to use the drug, the records show. Under Florida law, parental consent or a judge’s ruling is needed before a foster child can be administered a psychotropic drug.

It’s unclear whether Gabriel was taking Symbyax. Margate police have his medication logs as they investigate his death, according to DCF spokeswoman Leslie Mann.

Mann said the agency is examining why a court order was not obtained to put Gabriel on the drug.

“We are not sure at this time if the medication played a role in Gabriel’s death, but the department will seek a professional medical review of the treatment and prescription medication in Gabriel’s case,” she said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Prozac for use in children, but not Symbyax and Zyprexa. Even so, doctors have the right to prescribe any drug for any patient they think it will help.

Symbyax, like all anti-depressants, carries a “black box” warning – the strongest the FDA can issue – because anti-depressants increase the risk of suicidal thoughts in minors. Studies have not linked the drugs to an increase in suicides.

The FDA first issued the warning about Paxil in 2003, then extended it to all anti-depressants the next year.

In addition to Symbyax, Gabriel also was on Vyvanse, an attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder drug, records show.

At the time of his death, Gabriel was home alone with the 19-year-old son of his foster father. Gabriel got upset with the young man during lunch, locking himself in the bathroom and saying he was going to kill himself. The young man used a screwdriver to pick the lock and found Gabriel hanging from a shower hose, according to DCF records.

Gabriel was pronounced dead one hour later at Northwest Medical Center in Margate.

DCF is also investigating why Gabriel was being watched by the 19-year-old.

“The bottom line is that (the 19-year-old) should not have been left alone with Gabriel, if in fact he was,” Mann said.

DCF began releasing more than 1,000 pages of Gabriel’s child welfare records about 7:30 p.m. Friday, detailing a tragic life in which he was both a victim and an apparent danger to other children.

A month before his death, Gabriel told a therapist he was “a bad person,” the records state.

“(Gabriel) said, ‘I lied when I was 1 years old, then I lied when I was 2 years old. I was born a liar and I will always be lying,’ ” according to the therapist’s report.

DCF first learned of Gabriel in June after his mother was found passed out in a parked car in Hallandale Beach and he was in the back seat. The boy had come from Ohio–where authorities were looking into allegations that he had been sexually abused by an older boy, according to DCF records.

While in Florida, he bounced between his uncle’s home and two foster homes. He lived in one foster home from October until March, when fears arose that he might hurt a toddler in the house, according to DCF records. He was then moved to the Margate foster home, where he lived for the three weeks leading up to his death.

12 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by RITALAWTON on April 30, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    ANYONE OUT THERE WHO HAS A VALID CLAIM,AGAINST THE AUSTRALIAN AND OR GOVERMENTS OF OUR WORLD, PLEASE SEND ME DETAILS OF YOUR TRAGIC EVENTS, MY GOVERNMENT HAS ABUSED MYSELF MANY TIMES,BUT WHEN I WAS ADDMEITTED INTO THE MENTAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEM, BECAUSE OF THE ILL TREATMENT, THIS FINISHED EVERYTHING FOR ME, I REALISED THAT LIES COULD RUIN A PERSONS LIFE, THE SYSTEM WOULD LET THEM DOWN, THEY WOULD BE PUMPED FULL OF DRUGS AGAINST THEIR WILL, THEN ULTIMATELY HAVE TO LOIE IN THE VERY SAME SYSTEM THAT SENT THEM THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE. THIS JUST MAKES NO SENCE TO ANYONE INCLUDING ME. HOW COULD A 7 YEAR OLD KNOW HOW TO HANG THEMSELF. PLEASE JOIN ME WITH THIS ATTROCITY IN THE DEVELOPED WORLD THAT EVERYONE THINKS IS CRAZY, BUT TO SCARED TO CHANGE ANYTHING, THEIR LIES, WE ULTIMATELY HAVE TO LIE TO GET AWAY FROM THEM. THIS IS THE SYSTEM THAT IS SUPPOSE TO PROTECT US, HOW CAN WE POSSIBLY TRUST ANY OF THEM WHEN THEY ARE THE ONES THAT ABUSE US INSTEAD OF HELPING US… PLEASE HELP ME CHANGE THIS?????????JUSTICE 4 ALL=FREEDOM FROM THIS STUPID SYSTEM, THAT FAILS ALMOST EVERONE???????HELP

    Reply

    • Posted by Beatriz Gomez on June 4, 2009 at 1:53 pm

      I CRIED FOR THIS LITTLE BOY WHO IS JUST A VICTIM OF THIS EVIL SOCIETY, GOD PLEASE PROTECT OUR CHILDREN FROM THIS GOVERMENT AND THE CHILDREN AND FAMILIES DEPARTMENT, THEY ARE THE ONES TO BLAME FOR THIS, GABRIEL IS NOW WITH GOD AND HE’S BELOVED ANGELS IN HEAVEN, MY HEART BREAKS AS I AM A MOTHER TOO, I THINK THEY ARE TRYING TO BLAME IT ON THE CHILD SAYING THAT HE WAS ABUSING OTHER KIDS, SHAME ON THIS SO CALLED ADULTS, IRRATIONAL PEOPLE WITH NO FEELINGS, SHAME ON THE MIAMI HERALD FOR EVEN REPOST SUCH AN OUTRAGEOUS STORY, IT IS SAD THAT WE ARE SOOOO EVIL, MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON ALL OF HUMANITY BECAUSE I THINK WE DONT DESERVE IT.

      Reply

  2. Posted by Nikko on July 9, 2009 at 3:37 am

  3. Posted by Shazia on September 3, 2009 at 7:54 am

    I wish I could have been in this boys life just to tell him that everything is going to be ok. He just needed a parent to love, comfort and take care of him. He needed to know that he was not all alone in this world, he needed someone to take his problems and make them theirs. I wish I could have been there for him. May you rest in peace, dear, sweet Gabriel. I’m so sorry you ever suffered.

    Note to anyone out there who is willing to hurt any child in any way, shape or form, you better pray I don’t meet you.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Carol on November 5, 2009 at 12:59 am

    2 dead kids and counting. Punjwani, Segal Institute and Compass Health Systems are the same.

    Reply

  5. Posted by donna on November 6, 2009 at 4:52 am

    Dear Gabrielle,
    So sorry your life ended so soon…soo many dreams and hopes for you. If only you could have been placed with us I could have loved you forever……………
    Rest in peace…

    Reply

  6. Posted by Joleane Sprau on June 20, 2011 at 5:11 am

    So many things happen in this country. My children and I have also been in the CPS system in Arizona. I have had my children taken from me, Split up and my daughter had gone to her father who is a meth user. It’s pretty bad when my 4 yr old can see the difference in her father and says something to me about it. My son was adopted out and my rights severed. I had gone throgh several classes that I had to go to through court order and completed them all. I had 2 psychological evals done. The first one was great, the best my attorney had ever seen, months later the second one was no good at all and stated that my children were in danger if they were with me, after the psychologist had a lengthy conversation with my case wroker who had already told the Dr that they were moving to sever my rights before it was even cleared or had gone through the courts. This was based upon the CPS workers opinion. The Dr. Did not go through enough research on me or talked to anybody really when making his judgements of me. I have tried to contact the govoner of AZ and have gotten the responce that they have nothing to do with CPS. who do you turn to when there is nobody else left? My children are beating themselves up and thinking they are horrible children. Why would you take children from families that love them and care about them while you have whitnessed on several occassions that children are left in unsafe homes and with abusive parents?? The justice system has failed me and my childen does anybody know how to fight this? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Please email me at joleane2006@gmail.com

    Reply

  7. I was a foster kid, and sadly stories like Gabriels are very typical of the system. Here you have a scared emotionally hurt 7 yr. old little boy who just needs someone to love and take care of him. Both of his parents are in jail, and everyone wonders why he was acting out! In stead of therapy or just some loving support lets just drug him ’cause its cheaper and easier then helping him work through his problems.

    Reply

  8. its very sad to see that the system that is suppose to be for the kids to protect the kids would rather throw a pile of pills down their throat instead of doing what the taxpayers shell out money for.Its so sad that so many child had to suffer and/or lose their lives because another person that claims to be a proffesional was to busy to examine them properly

    Reply

  9. Posted by Charlotte Fieselman on January 19, 2012 at 6:41 am

    Sadly, it is not just Foster children who are being abused by the system. In this case a mother has managed to have two healthy children declared disabled for her own financial benefit. The daughter has been declared autistic diagnosed only by fake symptoms reported by the Mother to Miami Children’s Hospital doctors. She is given 3 different drugs per day for ADHD–two pills in the a.m. and one in the afternoon. The 13-year-old son is given three pills per day also. One for ADHD in the a.m. and a prozac and another ADHD drug in the evening. He is on the same regiment of drugs that Gabriel Myers was on when he committed suicide. These children’s problems stem from the bipolar mother who is on her third marriage and looking for a meal ticket in two handicapped kids. Their problems developed following the Mother divorcing their father (her second marriage), marrying their church singer who the children knew, the children having to move from their family home to a small townhouse with their stepfather, having to change schools and being forced to accept the stepfather’s 3 minor children who are younger than them. No psychiatrist or counselor has touched upon these problems. Instead, these doctors prescribe more and more medications for these poor children–drugging them is the mother’s and doctor’s answer to any behavior problem. The Court’s answer to these children’s father’s plea for help was to declare he was interferring and to give full medical custody of the children to the mother. OMG! What is this world coming to. Shame on Miami Children’s Hospital and all of their contracted agencies, the Children’s Trust, Children’s Medical Services, and all of the Florida funded agencies who are letting these children suffer without listening to or seeing the real problem.

    Reply

  10. Posted by Jeanne Santana on December 15, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    Gabriel Meyers,death could have been prevented. First of all, he was ripped away from his mother which is the most traumatic experience for a child. The state should have placed in home services and gotten her the help she needed so her child did not have to be further traumatized, but that’s not how DCF or our court systems work and so they put them in sub standard foster care,,alot of whom have their own set of problems and agendas.Dr.Punjwani did not fail this child Gabriel Meyers, All Psychiatric medication has a risk,DCF failed this child because any child who enters foster care is forced to be on psychiatric medication,not by doctors but by DCF protocol,and trust me when I tell you that they tell you you still have legal rights to your child as far as medical treatment, you don’t,the judge will just get a court order to override you,so much for the scales of justice. Guardian ad litems aren’t there all the time,and there should be parent advocates as well. This system needs to be re-vamped completely. I could go on for hours at the crimes and injustices I myself have witnessed. I swear to God if I see a problem happening now,I will do my best to take the problem into my own hands before I would ever see another child go into this barbaric system. Sometimes I believe we have to go back to the old school ways where it takes a villiage to raise a child and DCF needs to stay out of it.

    Reply

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