DR. RUDORFER: Thank you.
We are to speaker 57.
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
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
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.