A Sad Story in our Autism Community

A Sad Story in our Autism CommunityA Sad Story in our Autism Community

I’m purposely going to keep this blog short, because this is not one that makes me feel warm and fuzzy. If anything, it makes me sad, and a little terrified.

I’m blogging about suicide.

One that affected our local autism community.

What happened?

In the spring, a seventeen-year-old with high functioning autism committed suicide on April 2, Autism Awareness Day by jumping from a parking structure at a Glendale, California mall.

We didn’t know this young man, but friends of ours did.

I remember hearing the story and thinking about how sad it sounded. We go to that mall all the time. I park in that structure.

I hadn’t heard any of the details, but those were my first thoughts.

Then, the next night, I was talking to a friend who has a son in the same Teen Club as my child. We’ve known this family for years (our sons met while playing soccer when they were six or seven.)

The friend gave me more details about this tragic event.

The boy who died was a friend of another mutual friend’s son (Another ex-soccer player who we’ve known for years, we made a lot of friends from this one soccer team!)

The two boys also worked at the same location.

What does this have to do with autism?

In our area, our autism community sometimes feels very small.

It turns out that this young man also had mild autism.

I talked to the mom of the friend, and they said they were very upset. The school had sent out a call to their students, and offered counselling. She said her son was dealing with it okay, but was afraid that when he went to his job, the one he did with this friend, it would hit him.

Did I tell my son?

I did. I told him that his friend, ______, had a friend who committed suicide. (As of this writing, the death was ruled a suicide.)

Because my son didn’t know the boy who died, he reacted by saying, “Oh, sorry to hear that.” But, that was all he said. He didn’t know the young man, so I really didn’t expect too much. I did say that his good friend was very upset, and he responded appropriately to that.

I took the opportunity to talk to him about suicide. We discussed how he had been bullied in the past and how, whether it was about bullying or not, he was always welcome to talk to his parents about anything that was bothering him. We were always available to talk to him.

My son and I had a good talk.

My takeaway?

Talk to your child. I feel my child and I have a strong connection, and I check in with him every so often. I watch him and listen to him. I’m sometimes checking to make sure there are no abrupt changes that I should to be concerned with. I make sure there’s no major changes in his school grades and/or his overall activities. And, I know and approve of the kids he “hangs” with. He’s has some great friends!

It’s every parent’s nightmare.

I can’t really express too many words after this point. Something like this suicide keeps me up at night. I can convince myself all I want to that something like that won’t happen to my son, but then…A lot of parents might have said that exact same thing.

I’m sick about it. And sad. And, something like this reminds me to check in with my son.

Which is a good thing.

I like those occasional kicks in the butt.

I’m so sorry for this young man and his family.

My condolences. A Sad Story in our Autism Community

Here’s some more on the topic:

https://iancommunity.org/aic/link-between-autism-and-suicide-risk

 

More on Kimberly Kaplan:

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A Sad Story in our Autism Community