Halfway through his first year of Kindergarden, my son was diagnosed with high-functioning autism. Some of his symptoms are very similar to ADHD, but we haven't checked him out for it yet... It'd honestly be difficult to distinguish them from the autism. He's now 14 years old, in 8th grade, and he gets along pretty well most days.
One of his primary symptoms has always been difficulties regulating his emotions, especially anger. He'll have a tendency to shut down completely or react with physical violence. And often it happens so fast that he can't catch himself, even with warnings and reminders from others. Afterwards, he's perfectly and genuinely sorry over whatever he did. He often says that once it starts he "can't think".
And like a lot of autistics, he also has a tendency to self harm when he gets upset or overly frustrated with himself... Banging his head against walls or tables, for example. Once or twice, I found him tying himself -- arms and neck -- to the headboard of his bed. When I talked to him about it, he said he was punishing himself. I had several long talks with him about it, and had thought -- had hoped -- that was the end of it.
Just the other day, I noticed he had some scuff marks on his neck. They looked a little like the sort of abrasive marks you get on your shoulders when you wear a backpack that's loaded too heavy and has the straps adjusted too tight. I thought that he might be tying himself up again. I talked to him about again. He didn't want to, but he admitted that he was wrapping things around his neck.
This morning, he was a little late wetting out the door for the bus, so I went down to his room, knocked on his door and poked my head in. I noticed the belt from his bath robe tied to the light fixture in his room and dangling down. The paint around the fixture was cracked, as if it had been pulled slightly out of the ceiling. I asked him about it. He didn't walk to talk about it. I let him know that this was serious, that he wasn't in trouble, and that we would talk about it after school, because I love him and want to find out what going on so I can help.
This terrifies me beyond the capacity for rational thought. This isn't the usual teenager contemplating suicide as a cry for help but not actually intending on going through it. This is him trying and failing. Had he been a little bit lighter, or had the lighting fixture been a little bit stronger, I might have come home to find him dead.
I'm going to call my therapist as soon I calm down enough to do so, and get her advice... she specializes in autism as well ADHD. His autism complicates things, and I'm not sure how effective the usual suicide counseling would be.