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Teens on the Autism Spectrum Who Threaten Suicide

"Do people with Aspergers (or high functioning autism) 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."


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

Some teens with ASD or High-Functioning Autism (HFA) 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, these "special needs" adolescents 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, autism spectrum disorders are 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

Teenagers on the spectrum 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.

As one parent stated:  

"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 the boy that cried wolf thing - BUT IF he were to 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 situation 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 scenerio 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 :( "

Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:

==> Videos for Parents of Children and Teens with ASD

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