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Aspergers Teens and Threats of Suicide

Question

Do people with Aspergers often take action on the threats they make when they blow up? My sister (who died tragically 5 years ago) has a 18 yr old so with AS. When he gets really worked up, he threatens to kill himself and "take others with him." His threats of suicide are often paired with "if I don't get what I want", not "I am so depressed I want to die." These threats seem to be more of a bullying technique instead of a cry for help. I hesitate to call the police because there is no other topic that sets him off more than the police.

Answer

Parents, families and teachers need to keep a watchful eye on the emerging teenager who has Aspergers. Know the warning signs and learn about the three D's = drugs, depression and dangerous activity.

Some teens with Aspergers can deal with social isolation, but others can't, so that makes them depressed, question the reason for living, and ask themselves if there's any point in carrying on.

Often times, Aspies are discriminated against and outright bullied. They may be harassed to conform and fit into the humdrum “Neuro Typical” society. Some will take their own lives if the heat gets too high.

Perhaps, if suicide is a problem with this group, it would be due to the fact that it is more difficult for them to connect emotionally with other people. They also don't realize that they will hurt others by taking such drastic action on themselves. It is overwhelming for them because basic things for some take so much effort for this group of people – and it is too easy for them to be disconnected emotionally from people.

Like all mental conditions which cause people to behave differently from the norm, Aspergers is associated with depression. Depression can be caused by a number of things including:
  • Anxiety and Panic Attacks
  • Fatigue or Tiredness due either to the condition or to the treatment of the condition
  • Guilt or regret over past actions/outburst/meltdowns
  • Miscommunications
  • Misunderstandings
  • Overwhelming feelings and thoughts
  • Social troubles because you do not seem to fit in

Aspergers teens need the love and support of family and friends more than the average teenager.

Having said this, your sister's son needs to know that if he makes threats to "take others with him" outside of the home (e.g., at school), his threats will be taken very seriously. So, to let him get away with these threats at home may not be in his best interest, because it is not representative of how the real world operates.


Discipline for Defiant Aspergers Teens

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great article - I wish more people would understand how frustrated a teenager with Aspberger's becomes. Mine does not contimplate suicide but the anxiety and "I don't care" is a more than a bit stressful.

Anonymous said...

My 16yr old just threatens to punch people if she can't have her own way. Or "kick them to the floor" she has threatened to burn the house down with her four year old brother in it on many occasions and Is always threatening violence or verbally abusing people when her way is not followed or allowed. I have to admit I find it really really hard to accept this as a condition :( she was only diagnosed november so I don't exactly have my head fully around the diagnosis or condition yet but she really is so hateful and spiteful and vicious at times its very hard to tolerate :(

Anonymous said...

My son talks about suicide sometimes but not as a threat to get what he wants...its more of being told to do something and i get omg i wish i was dead, or im gonna kill myself so i donthave to do it anymore tyoe of thing, good luck!

Anonymous said...

my son is 8 and hes always threatening others, he has acted on his threats, never to harm himself, always others. its scarey.

Anonymous said...

My son who is 14 threatens often. Always when not getting his way. He frequently threatens to kill me when I sleep. I know this is the rage. When he is not in a rage he is sweet. I have had to defend myself against his rage. He gets violent. But I stand strong I dont give in from fear of his reaction.

Anonymous said...

This is a very touchy subject, coming from former law enforcement. It is so super hard to know the right thing to do because they threaten so often it is almost like te boy that cryed wolf thing BUT IF he were to eve follow through and hurt a sibling or burn something down or hurt someone else, YOU as the parent will also be charged criminally and your other children removed from the home because the way the law would see the siuation is this " You KNEW he was capable of doing it and YOU CHOSE to keep it quiet and keep your other children in the situation, therefore YOU have KNOWINGLY endangered your other children" I have been faced with this exact senerio personally. It is so hard to know what the right thing is and the lst thing any of us want to do is feel like we could ever be put in a situation to be forced to chose between our children :(

Anonymous said...

Our gr/son Blows up ,bullys, punches, hit's walls doors feels the need to break things. Verbally abusive ,at the same time wishing he were dead,on these meltdowns,after he has hurt or just gone to far. Begging for answers why he is like this.Wishes he could die, Wanting why he feels this way to go away. The anxiety he and us share is very stressful. At 15 he has become somewhat of a recluse. Refusing to try new things..not wanting to go places. He can be so spiteful ,hateful at times that it is a worry!! how do we tolerate this and for how long. What is our next step ? What happens to these with this Aspergers when we can no longer be there? Yet there is a very bright loving young man in there whom we are so very proud of and love very,very much. So what are the answers? We can't give up, with luck, Love, and Faith..may God Bless us even more.

Anonymous said...

My 11 hear old has made those threats but not to harm anyone else, just himself if he can't have what he wants. I took him to the ER last time. He hasn't done it since. It's but a threat to take lightly.

Anonymous said...

While I think the answer addresses some good points about teens and AS, I don't think it speaks to the actual question: Do people with Aspergers often take action on the threats they make when they blow up?

And the answer is it all depends. Do they have to escalate their behavior to get their needs met? And what are their needs really? My son used that "I'm going to kill myself (or you, everyone or other terrible threat) if I don't get what I want right now" approach for a long time. When you hear those words as a parent (or caring adult) it is so... difficult in every sense. Because of the shocking nature of the statement, its hard to keep things from getting out of control from that threat on and hard to deescalate the situation.

Dissecting the behavior in NT terms is rather simple: It's bullying to get what they want. But we are talking about a kid with a condition that effects their ability to communicate and a disorder that makes sensory stimulation an absolute nightmare. With my son, I found these threats happened when he wasn't able to communicate his actual needs and his internal and external sensory input were more than he could handle. That tends to push a kid over the edge... where reason and self-control go out the window. He may have been saying he was gonna kill himself, but the message was "I don't know how deal with [things not going the way I planned them in my head aka unpredictability]".

They need their world, internally and externally to be put back in order. They need help learning how to deal with their disappoints and frustrations. They need some validation that you understand the circumstance (whatever it may be) is so hard for them to deal with/process/make sense... you get the idea. And you both need to learn the triggers to this behavior so you know when to implement the coping skills proactively. You need to develop a system for mutual identification... so that with minimal communication the aspie kid can let you know a storm is brewing inside of him and you can guide himself away from it (and eventually he'll learn to guide himself).

You essentially need to throw all those things you know about NT kids out the window... and redefine his behaviors is autistic terms. It's not bullying, it's an inability to cope with, communicate, or process an event. The only way to define the gravity of that event's impact on a kid is sometimes with threats... the more you don't deal with the underlying problem, the bigger those threats become. If at the end the kid gets their needs met with threats, the more they learn this is an appropriate interaction to get their needs and wants met. You show them that this is how you make yourself feel better-- by aggressive, bully-like behavior.

Emotionally, aspie kids can act like toddlers, so why address toddlers with the threat of calling the police? You teach toddlers how to cope with negative stuff in a way that is developmentally appropriate. Don't apply regular 18 year logic to an autistic 18 year old because you set everyone up to fail that way. Its like expecting a toddler to do your taxes then getting mad when they scribble on it with crayon. This isn't working, so you need to find another way so those threats don't turn into actions.

Anonymous said...

Short answer: don't ignore it. We took our 15 y/o son back to the psychiatrist (his tantrums were escalating and his sisters were afraid), and he changed his meds; we kept him out of school for several days (family took turns staying home with him) until he got used to the meds (made him really sleepy at first), and now he can stay calmer when he is upset. I DON"T want him on meds forever but as the doc said, if he can't keep from blowing up he can't learn. We did hospitalize him for a few days back when he was first diagnosed, because he was so frustrated and angry all the time and said he wished he could die, he felt like a nothing, etc. I would definitely have a plan including which hospital you would go to, who would help you get him there, etc. if you think you could avoid calling police this way.

Longer answer: Prevention - we got our son therapy and social skills training - the social skills really helped but I had to make him go at first because he said it was stupid - I make him read a book on Asperger's with me before his computer turn, and I'm also starting to make him learn relaxation/self "hypnosis" techniques, and talk about his anger after any incident. (Comic Strip Conversations is a good model.) Find out what is stressing him most: is it school itself? Bullying? Isolation? I'm pushing the school for more support or more breaks during the day to keep from overwhelming him, as he seems to be stressed by the workload with his slow processing speed. The doctor told him it is like having a really powerful computer and a slow modem. Some parents pull them out of school and let them do online school or get a GED if necessary - anything to help defuse the situation. Better that they grow up and then go back to school, than not grow up at all or end up in jail.

Anonymous said...

My 6 yr old Aspie says she wishes her 14 sister would die .... And sometimes says she wishes she was dead too.... It just comes out of no where and makes me worry about her future : (

Anonymous said...

my sons does say that about his brother now that i remember....or i wish you were a girl and tells me i wish you were a boy..? dont get it

Anonymous said...

My 12 yr old used to always say it..my parents and I hsd good long talk with him. even though he doesnt mention it these days, i often wonder if he thinks it.
We have a paediatrician appointment later in the month, then starting with a psychologist

Anonymous said...

my son is 7 and the evaluation we did recently just confirmed the Aspergers diagnoses I recieved when he was not even 5. However, overthe last two weeks he has threatened to kill his teachers and told them he was going to bring a knife to school. When they told him they would have to call me because of his behavior he said that he would beat me up when I got there. He has NEVER said anything like this before. And I am completely unsure what to do. The school is having to suspend him for these threats and yet I'm not sure what to do or why all at once he has been making threats.

Anonymous said...

My son was kind of suspended ( i guess you could say) for 2 days Until i took him to CSC (childrens service center) because of a remark he made at home(not at school) and i told the school about it. He makes remarks now like "im gonna kill him" or i wish i was dead...im gonna commit suicide---etc, and once grabbed a knife and told his father he was going to stab him ( we are divorced) .... i dont know what to tell you ,all i can say is Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I too am facing the same issue....my 14 yr old son told me today he should have died 9 years ago (he was diagnosed with Aspi and type 1 diabetes the same year) when he became ill from diabetes. He is angry we went against gods plan and we should have let him die. He feels his life has never been right and he is worthless. After 9 years I have no idea what to do or how to help. He has seen 3 different psychologists.....he says I keep wasting my time because he will never open up. My heart aches for these kids who feel such sadness and truly they are so remarkable..... Against his wishes I will keep trying to find a dr he can open up to and that can help.... I pray the same for you all...

Anonymous said...

I worry about it. My seven-year-old was so upset, angry, everything while he was put in time out that he wrapped the dog leash around his neck. I had to throw it out the front door because everywhere I tried to hide it, he went to find it. It is something I try to be extra aware of. But he definitely tries to manipulate with the "if I don't get________, I'm not____________(or I will____________)." And if varies in degrees from "not wearing my shirt" to "I'll fall down the stairs."
9 hours ago · Like

Anonymous said...

Hi... my daughter does this too. It was worse when she was put on stimulants, and I fought to get her off them. I'm sorry you are going through this, one thing that helped me (and may or may not help your particular situation) is that my daughter is very inquisitive, and at one point asked me what happened after we die. I have my own spiritual beliefs about this, but it gave me a chance to talk intelligently to her about what life is, what death is, etc in a social-story sort of way, and also gave her a chance to talk rationally about different religions and ideas about afterlife, karma, the soul and what not. She found this fascinating, and it seemed to decrease the frequency of the suicidal ideation. I think honestly, no matter HOW serious these threats are (and they should always be taken seriously), the best thing to do when they are doing this during a meltdown is to NOT REACT. Just stay calm and don't feed into it. Don't validate it by showing extra attention and worry. You can later take action by talking to their therapist, guidance counselor, etc, but do NOT freak out or act worried when they are in the midst of the suicidal ideation. And don't even respond to it rationally because it just makes it all worse. What they are often saying is just "I don't know how to deal with my feelings right now and I would rather not be feeling anything at all!" I find that the best thing really is to just do everything (EVERYTHING) possible to AVOID the tantrums/rages/meltdowns BEFORE they happen. Minimize those UFO's (unnecessary frustrating objects) as dr. Ross Greene so wisely says!! ;)

Anonymous said...

This is the same thing I'm dealing with right now with my 14 year old son that has been diagnosed with Aspergers. He has made these same threats to get out of school and has been successful! He got exactly what he wanted and now has been suspended from school for over a week. The school knew he would feel rewarded so in an attempt to make him still feel responsible for his words they have sent his work home every day and it is to be returned finished the next day or is graded as a zero. He has been fighting me tooth and nail and refuses to do a great deal of his homework at home. I honestly feel like I'm the one who is being punished for his behavior. I'm hesitant to admit that with the possibility of sounding like a selfish parent, and honestly I do feel that way at times. I envy those parents with children that can go one week without having a phone call from the school because of their child's behaviors. Devin is enjoying his time at home and I'm sure they will be seeing a lot more of this behavior now as he does't seem to understand any consequence of this suspension at all. I'm hoping to find a therapist that will understand that this IS a behavior more than a threat and can somehow work with the school to implement something in his IEP to avoid further suspensions like this. In the meantime I have grounded him from everything (games, toys, internet, etc) and this still doesn't seem to be having an impact on him. Another behavior I have seen since puberty is sleeping to avoid schoolwork and classes. Does anybody else have any trouble with that? Meds, grounding, consequences...nothing seems to change this child at all. It's so hard not to get frustrated. I wish I could just appreciate my child's brilliance without all the pressure to make him fit in with everyone else. Thanks for listening to my rant!!! :)
53 minutes ago · Like

Anonymous said...

It's SOOO great to find a place where people understand and have gone through these things. It's so easy to feel all alone in this. Thanks to everyone for their stories!!!

anon said...

What a relief to find i am not alone!!!! my 8yo son completely flipped out lastnight after getting a maths question wrong (he loves maths but is such a perfectionist) he threatened to kill me and screamed at the top of his lungs over and over again, i tried to calm him and he started saying im a bad boy, im evil i wish i was dead! then he put his hands around his neck and really tried to strangle himself. I finally got him to calm down and he started up again because his nose hurt from sniffing (because of all the crying) im suprised the neighbours didnt call the police as it sounded like somebody was being murdered!! my heart breaks for my little boy who seems to take the weight of the world on his shoulders! he is such an intelligent kid, how can he think so little of himself??

Christy Hudson said...

You are not alone. My eight year old daughter is highly intelligent but she still has these horrible meltdowns.... Mostly when she is tired. She seems to need more rest than other kids her age. She expects perfection from herself and makes huge volcanoes out of nowhere....I have tried every imaginable response with little success....she is definitely a different child...she has so many gifts I just want her to see them and be happy....

Eunice said...

It is a difficult, emotionally draining journey. Just reading all these posts though, it does help to know there are others out there. I have a 9 yr old daughter with Aspergers. I took her out of school to take that area of stress from her and meltdowns are now around one every ten days. Like others, the signs are tiredness, fidgeting and the moment she says I am bored I know to do something. I have never been out so much in my life! Car runs help a lot to calm her down. Just going out in car and talking. I am amazed and concerned at the level of self awareness they have of their feelings when in a meltdown.Suicidal threats along with pleas of help for why they are like this. Thoughts with you all., x

Belinda said...

My 17 year old says he wants to die, and that he's going to kill himself all the time. I wonder if anyone here has a child who has had success with meds? We haven't really tried any yet, because they all say that thoughts of suicide are side effects. Well, duh, that's the whole reason we want to try them. I worry that if the meds cause that, it will just push him more towards doing it.

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