Mother and Autism Son Murder Suicide Tragedy

Mother and Autism Son Murder Suicide Tragedy

It sickens me when I read that a parent has taken the life of her autistic child. Wednesday evening, it happened again. A Bronx mom is suspected of shooting her 12 year old autistic son, and then committing suicide. The mother, Michaela Jackson allegedly snapped and killed herself and her son, Kenneth Holmes.

I’m trying to imagine how this mother could do such a thing and can’t. I can’t imagine how anything can be so bad that the only option is to kill your child and yourself. Kill yourself, if you must, but don’t harm such a precious innocent.

These occurrences are happening more and more. Something needs to be done to prevent more deaths. What kind of supports did this woman have in place? Did she have respite care? Was anyone watching for signs of extreme emotional stress? When do we stop shaking our heads and criticizing the monster, and start putting preventative measures in place?

I refuse to believe that killing a child is a solution. I refuse to believe that a parent can be pushed mentally to the point that this is the only option. However, it seems to keep happening. Things need to change. I don’t care about the parent that does such a horrendous act. I do care about the children that are losing their lives because of these parents.

35 comments to Mother and Autism Son Murder Suicide Tragedy

  • My thoughts exactly! I don’t understand how life could be so bad that someone could take a child’s life it angers me. Your right what support system did she have and did she even use it?

    • Tammy

      Stacie. – How are you? It’s great to have you writing on your blog again. It makes me angry every time I read about a mom killing her child. Autism is no excuse. The stress of raising an autistic child is no excuse. As autistic parents, we understand that stress. Yet, it’s a place we would never go to. It takes a monster to kill a child.

  • Shannon

    It makes me beyond sad. It just happened in TX too. A mom killed her two autistic children.

  • Honestly, I can see how someone would snap like this. There was just a study I saw where they concluded that mothers of autistic kids experience much higher levels of stress than mothers of kids with other disabilities (there weren’t enough fathers that participated to get an accurate depiction of their group). We have to ask ourselves why. I think it’s because of a lack of available services. Even if services are available, they’re hard to get and not always covered by insurance. The emotional and financial stress of having one or more children on the spectrum is extremely high. We don’t know what the situation is. Obviously these mothers feel hopeless and they think that there is no other solution. I’m sure they don’t just commit suicide because then they’d be leaving what they perceive as a burden of a child for someone else to take care of as well. It’s a very dark place these mothers have slipped into, but I think we need to ask ourselves, “Why?” instead of blaming them or saying how horrible they are.
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    • Tammy

      Hi Amanda. As a mom of an autistic child, I understand about the stress involved in raising an autistic child, and the supports that are and are not available. Given that, I still can’t imagine being pushed to the edge like that. It seems to be happening more and more. There are alternatives. There is help out there. There is always a better alternative available. I think any mother that can kill her child is a monster, no matter what the circumstances. I pray for the victims of these mothers.

  • My heart breaks for the child.
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  • Unbelievable…My heart is breaking.
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  • Very sad indeed. Any Mother killing ANY child is ALWAYS tragic and horrible :(
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  • As a former psych nurse, I understand how far someone’s mind can go into depression. And what that can make them do. Things that, in their “right” minds, they could never fathom doing.

    This mother obviously had some serious mental issues that should have been treated. The result was a murder-suicide. I am in no way condoning what she did, just saying that I do understand the processes that can lead a normally rational person to such a desperate place.
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  • it is a very sad situation… I can not say I understand where she was coming from, I am lucky that I did not have a child that needed this much attention. but I know how hard it is to get attention and help… and how hard it is to get anyone to give you even an hours time to yourself if you were not able to get resit care & help from some agency… I also know that it is hard to over come that pit of depression she must of been it to even consider doing what she did. I am NOT condoning what she did… to take anyones life is terrible, when depressed or in that dark hole it seems to be better for everyone else around you to get rid of YOU, and since her child was a major part of who she was, she must of not wanted to leave a burden behind… sad… was there any news if a note was left behind… I feel sorry for any family that “may” of loved and cared for them & are left behind to deal with this tragedy, to bad they were not there to see any signs.
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  • Lee

    I think it is very soothing that you don’t see how this could happen, because unfortunately I see how it could happen far too easy. I suffered from Post Partum Psychosis and nearly snapped on a newborn baby. Chemicals were off and I didn’t realize what was happening. I got help, I’m sorry this woman did not. But it does happen and it is a tragedy. I won’t be pointing the finger at anyone in such a tragic situation. (not saying you are, let me be clear).

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  • [...] Autism, Are There Alternative Treatments Available?Boston's Autism Mini-Cluster: New Drugs and Diagnostics Target …Autism Parents Want People to Understand Tantrums | StrollerderbyMother and Autism Son Murder Suicide Tragedy – Autism Learning Felt [...]

  • I am so saddened by these stories. There is nothing to make it OK to kill a child, but I can say I understand how far being the parent of an autistic child can push you over the edge from sane. And my son is verbal and pretty high functioning and I have a lot of support. I love him with every fiber of my being and would never harm him, but the dark days are hard and I can’t imagine what life would be like if I had none of the upside and was less balanced myself.
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  • cautious

    This is an extremely sad story. Besides the fact that the child had autism, there must also be other beneficial factors.
    I don’t know what kind of support there are in the US, I live in UK, but I come from a family with a sister who is autistic, and two disabled siblings. If it was not for family, friends and social services, I don’t know how my mother would have coped. But coped she did and as we got older except for my autistic sister who is now looked after, we manage all well i.e. work, marriage, children and getting on with life basically. My autistic sister is well and we see her often and take her home often so she is not absent from us. Mum passed 2005, so it is so important.

    I just wanted to bring a positive light to what has happened to this lady and her son, that although it is damn hard work, it is not impossible.

    So please if you know someone with an autism child or children tell them it will be alright.

  • Maggie

    I think what happened is sad but as a parent of a 6 year old autistic child i can definietly relate and understand her thoughts, its really hard to have to live the kind of life where you have to isolate yourself from everyone friends, holidays, activities and just stay home, a simple trip to the corner store is already a nightmare and the thats no including all the financial issues just to get therapies, and most importantly your childs future, its depressing and there is no cure and it hurts. its a sad way to live for both mother and child. the thoughts on why are we even here cross my mind all the time and its as if time is just going by but nothing changes we are just waiting. so no i dont blame the mother, its sad that this is happening but unless you are physically there and trying to help no one can really criticize.

    • jess

      As a mum of five children two with autism. I truly understand why this mom just lost it. We have days when it is truly awful, and the rest of the world doesnt understand our dilema.
      any one who wants to comment or judge walk in my shoes for one day. I bet you cant.
      this disability is hidden and misunderstood.
      i wouldnt wish it upon my worst enemy…….

  • ella

    All parents of autistic kids deserve our sympathy and support. It is extremely hard to raise these kids, the future can seem very bleak for them, and most families do not get the help and support that they should. You would think these desperate actions would bring attention to these people’s problems and the need for change, not criticism for what they’ve done.

  • Kim in KS

    I’m a single Mom with an autistic son. I love my child with every fiber of my existence. I am a “career mom” and don’t qualify for any of the state’s help. His Dad does not help financially or any other way. My son was born prematurely and I had to care for a very sick, fragile child. He was on 24/7 oxygen for years. Monitoring one’s breathe (and many other sick body parts) for years is mind-blowing scary and exhausting. He almost died countless of times. I was terrified all the time. Today, I “just” deal with his ADHD and autism. I have two college degrees, live in a nice house that I have financed independently and look like I’m doing well “on the outside.” The truth is, I struggle constantly. The support systems are lacking, too many rules and regulations, “normal moms” don’t have a clue but are extremely judgemental, other “autistic” moms are crazy with their own kids, family — well, if you’re lucky, you have supporting ones – but many don’t. We all have breaking points. I watched Moms walk out of NICU and abandon their babies…and many couldn’t understand that. I survived cancer while my son was 3 and I saw people give up there. All I can say — we all have breaking points. I’ve also learn to never judge someone until you’ve walked in their exact shoes. My heart goes to this family.

  • Emma K

    I am saddened and angered by the amount of finger pointing at these parents who are obviously distressed beyond belief and not thinking straight.

    I agree with the posters who talked about walking in another’s shoes.
    If someone was feeling suicidal and thinking that they could not leave their child to an uncertain future, reading that people who carry out such actions may be described as ‘monsters’ would hardly compel them to seek help.

    I found this article of interest:

  • Jocelyn

    I am a mother of a son that has been diagnosed with Asperger’s. I am saddened that some mothers see this as a bad thing. i will admit at first I was crushed by the term. My son shows me the beauty in things I never thought about before. Yes some days I want to pull my hair out but I would never call my child a burden on myself or my family. Yes my life has changed mostly for the good with him in it. So what if I have to schedule what I do around him. I could not imagine my life without him and thank God everyday for the gift he gave in my son without him life would be “NORMAL” and boring.

  • TP

    Sixteen years ago, I could have written this post. Now I get it. I understand, because there are days I’m almost there myself. The only thing that keeps me from harming myself is my faith. I had a three hour meeting with my son’s service coordinator yesterday, and was told that extreme good parenting will never win my autistic/shizohprenic son services. I watched my other son (also autistic, but very HF) in tears as he asked told the service coordinator he was afraid his brother would kill me or him. Apparently the fact that my oldest son set our house on fire wasn’t enough to qualify him for an appropriate level of supervision. I was informed that I needed to let my son hurt himself, someone else, or rape someone in order to qualify for any meaningful level of care. Our local law enforcement, after the last violent episode, told me if I couldn’t get help, get a taser.

    The sad truth is the public at large still expects “they” will assist these families, when the sad truth is, there is no they. The burden of care-giving has been shifted to the families so long as there is a respirating caregiver. So if I want my son to have a decent level of care, I have to die. Kind of insane, isn’t it?

  • txmother

    It is sad to read the article and all of the responses. As a mother of high function autistic child with emotion regulation and behavior issues, I do feel like leaving him behind me sometimes. I am doing homeschooling, which is even harder. For 365 days, I have to stay with him, teach him and take care of him. No rest, no support from anybody except for my husband. I don’t have any hope for the life. Sad, right? but what to do?

  • Arlena

    My son is nine years old , and is struggling with autism . As a single-mom of a parent of a child living with this baffling disorder , it is extremly tough with no financial help from his father. I could never do anything to harm my child..but I know a few friends of mine that has had to make the decision to place their child in residential placement. I am fighting against that happening. I also have to deal with the judgemental attitudes of other people where I live so it has been very hard for me to make friends here..I just got linked up with developmental disabilitys here in my area..I am fighting for the very survival of me and my son. and it is very demanding on my time to meet his challanging needs and it is very stressful ..I think instead of society judging mothers with autism and looking down on us..they should be there to lend us a hand and an offer of guinine friendship would go along way…just saying what they did was not right yet if someone would have only truly reached out ,what the outcome would have been instead..

  • angel

    To all you who are judging do you know how stress can affect the brain? In some circumstance stress can cause things to happen that make logic and rational choice shut down. The brain is a complex organ that misfires when certain circumstance interrupts its processes soooooo…. STOP JUDGING and saying you do not care what amount of stress you have you could never do that.. well you do not know how to walk in anyone else’s shoes even if you have children with autism and you share that commonality you do not know their genetic makeup or what happened to drive a person to that point…as horribly tragic as these types of events are I always know it is a good thing that it is not my job to judge them or anyone else for that matter. I am thankful to leave that up to the expert GOD. So for all of your on the soapbox with judgement etc. why don’t you go and use that energy for those who are running this country who do not give adequate amount of time and energy to helping our special children and our human needs in this country…oh wait because we are to worried about running everyone else in the world …well wishes

    • Razzly Faerie

      I can and will judge. How can i not. “Mental illness” can be a bogus way to justify someones actions. Some serial killers and rapists could qualify as mentally ill, i’m sure you still judge them. You don’t even need to have any particular mental illness to become suicidal, homicidal. No one knows what this boy was like. He may have been a problem child, or maybe he wasn’t that bad. The mother might have just wanted a “normal” son, In which case, she was really only thinking of herself.

    • Adrienne Oliver

      Angel, telling people not to judge is a judgment in itself. Stop telling people what to say or think. Had this mother killed a “normal” child, people would be even less sympathetic.

  • Razzly Faerie

    I have sympathy for people that commit suicide, but not murder suicide. Your life is ultimately your own, but no matter what you are going through, you have no right to kill other people. How does anyone know the boy who was killed had such bad behavior? Were you there to clarify that he was a huge problem child? I won’t make any definite presumptions about this mother, but i do believe many parents of disabled children simply don’t like the fact that their child did not turn out in their idealized way. Their situation is not necessarily beyond management by any means, they just hate and tire of the inconvenience, which i can understand. I would not hold it against a parent for handing their child over to professionals, whether disabled or perfectly healthy. But NOT killing them. There is no lack of resources, there are too many people that are willing to help. The system might be a mess, but help isn’t going to come knocking on your door. You have to open up and admit your feelings. This mother only did that when it was too late. Her son was the real victim here. He was born into the world, like the rest of us, without a choice. He had a condition that would make life more of a challenge for him and the people around him. And that condition is what got hum killed. He never had a say in anything that happened. The mother had that luxury at least. Her primary concern was herself in the end. Don’t tell people to “not judge”. We ALL judge. Some of you will judge people in your everyday lives for much more trivial things than a murder/suicide. Mental problems are often present with serial killers and sex predators. I bet you still judge them nonetheless.

  • David

    I think if I were a juror and I sat in judgement of a parent for murder of an autistic child that I would show mercy to such a parent. In her or his heart that person has already been punished beyond endurance. I would recommend a suspended sentence with probation even for premeditation.

    • Tammy

      There are so many things I want to say in response to this comment. But, I will be nice and not say any of them. All I will say is I strongly disagree with you. Raising a child with autism is not a punishment.

    • Raine

      David, i am the mother of a disabled son, and i have considered committing a murder suicide in the past, and comments like yours are actually one of the things i’m afraid of. If you were to automatically spare a parent of a jail sentence specifically because the child was autistic, you would be making the presumption that the child must have had serious behavioral problems to warrant a reaction as extreme as murder, or that there was no malice in the parents motivations and intentions, which may not have been the case. Each person and their circumstances should be taken individually, and motivations and intentions do make all the difference. When i thought of killing my son and myself, it was because i became so paranoid about what could happen to my son if i weren’t there for him, i felt like i would be saving us both. It wasn’t because i resented him, and i would hate for people to think that. I have no obligation to look after him if i really don’t want to. I could sign away my care giving responsibility and hand him over to the professionals, never to think about him again, and have my life all to myself. But i actually CARE about him, and i wouldn’t abandon someone i care about. The idea actually makes me shudder. I don’t judge parents who commit murder suicides, because i was nearly one of them, but please remember that not all of us parents to disabled children resent them. It’s fears from the outside world that were getting to me, not my son, and when you presume that parents must be stressed out purely by their child’s condition, you make a presumption that for many people, isn’t even true. I ensure that if i had gone through with ending my son’s life and my own, people would know that my son was at least loved during his life.

  • Fate

    This lady should have been grateful that she lived in a country where she had everything she needed. Just because she apparently felt like there were no options left doesn’t meant there actually weren’t any other options. She could have done other things besides committing a murder suicide. People try to make stories like this sound like societal problems, but they’re not. Ultimately they are restricted incidents. It’s a mental health issue. Most parents manage to deal with parenthood without killing anyone, whether their children are perfectly healthy or not.

  • Sometimes people can do the wrong thing with the right intentions. I’m sure this mother loved her son. But she was still wrong. People’s lives are not our property to take. Even the worst criminals shouldn’t murdered, let alone anyone else.

  • Anne

    For you people saying “don’t judge don’t judge” realize that the vast majority of people judge apart from the very enlightened few. Some more than others. It’s best to try to refrain from being overly judgmental and give people the benefit of the doubt, but it’s human nature, and i highly doubt none of you people have never judged someone or something. Since when is it such a terrible thing to do? It’s silly to tell people they can’t develop their own opinion about something because they “haven’t walked in their shoes”. That they are to be shut down because they aren’t inside of that person’s mind and therefor have no right to dare to question their motives, which is completely irrational. God forbid we not form our own thoughts. There is also a big difference between judging a person and judging their actions. I doubt this lady was an evil person and i don’t judge her as one. But i do “judge” the act of murder as the wrong thing to do. The bible says thou shalt not kill. It doesn’t specify anything. You do not have the right to take people’s lives. Anything beyond self defense is not justifiable. Acknowledging that in these situations is not harsh judgment toward anyone. The reason why people acknowledge it is due to other people having very different reactions depending on who the victim was, as though it is more acceptable in certain cases.

  • Eden

    Murder suicide is a double whammy of poor decision making.

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