My recent piece discussing what we could learn from Kellie Stapleton, a mother accused of trying to kill her daughter with autism and herself, inspired me to research other similar cases.
Here is what I found after a brief online search. This list is not comprehensive, and certainly can’t begin to quantify the much larger number of caregivers who think about ending either their lives, or the lives of their children, or both.
However, I hope this information further alerts us all to the importance of supporting parents of children with autism or any disability. These parents need financial, emotional and social support. Respite support may be the most important; it offers caregivers a few moments to themselves. It gives them the chance to take a break and maintain their strength as they sort through the challenges of the day or week. Clinicians, teachers, school district leaders, service providers, organization leaders, government officials, clergy and community members must come together to provide caregivers of children with special needs an environment that is filled with the vital support, love, care, acceptance and guidance they need in order to stay strong and continue fighting for the needs of their child.
1. Xuan Peng drowned daughter, Scarlett Chen
2. Karen McCarron suffocated daughter, Katie
3. Ryan Dutter shot son, Kyle, and self
10. Yvonne Freaney strangled son, Glen
11. Elizabeth Hodgins killed self and son, George
Frances Victory is a Developmental Psychology PhD candidate at CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org