Colette McCulloch

Photo of Colette McCulloch, a young blonde woman squinting in the sun, with her sunglasses propped up on her head. She is holding a wine glass full of red liquid and wearing a tank top.Name: Colette McCulloch.
Died: July 28, 2016.
Age at death: 35.
Cause of death: Suicide/Neglect (Inadequate treatment; refused evaluation after suicide attempt; committed suicide by stepping into highway traffic).
Location: Bedford, England, UK.

Colette had “an extraordinary mind” and was determined to survive, often telling her parents, “Don’t give up on me, mum and dad. Don’t give up on me.”

Colette’s autism was missed when she was a child–a common experience for many autistic girls, especially those who, like Colette, can speak fluently and do not have a learning disability. She was diagnosed with anorexia and OCD, and her autism remained undiscovered until she was 33 years old.

When Colette was finally diagnosed with autism, she and her family hoped the diagnosis would allow her to access proper care. They sent her to a private care home that specialized in autism. Colette was in distress, but despite her struggles, the home did nothing to help her. She got one meeting a week with a psychiatrist, and her “group therapy” consisted of things irrelevant to her, like lessons in how to go shopping.

Colette became suicidal. She jumped off a bridge into a river, but survived to be pulled out of the river and taken to the hospital. Her psychiatrist told the home that she needed to be evaluated and sectioned (involuntarily hospitalized) because she had acted with suicidal intent, but the request for an assessment was turned down four times by the local NHS, which said (without ever meeting her in person) that she was at no risk.

Without the assessment, the home where Colette was staying said she could no longer live there and gave her an eviction notice that informed her she would be thrown out in 48 hours, whether or not she had any other place to stay. Even though a new care home was found for her, the uncertainty and sudden change was was the last straw for the young woman who, though she was actively suicidal, was still not being closely supervised.

Colette left her group home and committed suicide by walking out into the road to be fatally hit by a truck. Her parents have spent 18 months demanding a full inquest.

Besides Colette and her loved ones, there is another victim: The driver of the truck that struck and killed Colette. She committed suicide at 2:30 in the morning, running out into the road in the dark too quickly for the truck driver to stop. The driver, an uninvolved bystander, was forced to witness Colette’s suicide because the people who were supposed to help Colette did not help her stay alive when she was in crisis. –Ed.

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