Saturday, January 06, 2007

Actress & Composer's Daughter, Nikki Bacharach, Commits Suicide

"LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The only child of pop songwriter Burt Bacharach and actress Angie Dickinson has committed suicide after a lifetime struggling with a form of autism, a spokeswoman for the former couple said on Friday. Nikki Bacharach, 40, died "quietly and peacefully" at her home in the northern Los Angeles municipality of Thousand Oaks on Thursday night, a statement said. "

I dread to think what impact this will have when the news breaks given the negative slant the Bacharachs have put on this through their press release.

I only hope there is time to combat the publicity, however this is a bad time to get the NAS to respond, I have informed the press office mobile, but that is on voice mail.

I doubt we will ever get the full picture of what this is about and I am sure there is more to it than AS, however it is the particularly curebie, mercurian, and utterly false statement regarding the "ravages" to ones brain that really perplexes

""She quietly and peacefully committed suicide to escape the ravages to her brain brought on by Asperger's," the statement said."

Autism does not ravage the brain, it is not a degenerative neurological condition on a par with Alzheimers, at the age of 50 I am succumbing the ravages of many things, but not my mental capacity which is intact enough to still be pursuing post graduate studies.

We will likely never know the real story behind, this or personal details of whatever difficulties Nikki was going through, but whatever they were, Asperger's syndrome was not the cause, but the responses of those around her to their own negative perceptions of it.

Well it has taught me a lesson anyway, not to commit suicide (which is just as well considering my low mood lately), because no matter why I do, it will be reported badly. Pity really because all the negative statements we are going to get make it more likely that someone else will!

Oh yeah thanks to Jypsy for the heads up on this ...


Joseph said...

There's higher risk of suicide in Asperger's (probably autism in general too). I understand it's something like 1.2 to 1.6 the risk in the general population. No doubt the higher risk is entirely accounted for a higher prevalence of depression among those with Asperger's. And depression is not biologically caused by Asperger's. Unless she found the diagnosis of Asperger's itself depressing, there had to have been external reasons for the depression.

laurentius rex said...

Indeed, and those external reasons cannot have been helped by a prevailing culture that claims that AS "ravages" the brain. It is that kind of emotive talk at the wrong time that can tip the scales.

The Bacharach family have kept very quiet about this up to now, but are they connected with Autism speaks in any way I wonder, the press statement ties in with there style of hyperbole.

One must give the Bacharachs time to get over there grief, but let us hope that the next round of reporting is less biased.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid this feeds directly into my own fears. When the children were first diagnosed one of the clinicians advised [apart from the issue of retardation] that drugs were a 'must' due to the high incidence of depression and suicide.
I also read that Temple Grandin found great relief in drug therapy.
If that statistical data is valid, then perhaps it is due to societal pressures rather than anything neurological per se.
Best wishes [and no more talk of suicide! seriously - imprint those headlines on the inside of your own skull]

Anonymous said...

This also reminded me that money and comfort can't insulate one completely from lonliness and isolation.

I hope technology will accelerate its advance to allow a much higher percentage of those disabled a social network that will not only foster a lot of shallow acquaintances, but also deep, meaningful relationships.

I often wonder if an engineer was to think of the lonliness and isolation that someone feels right now, how would that impact the hardware and software development process.

laurentius rex said...

As I said I am sure there is a vast and untold story behind this. I wouldn't mind more money myself but there are some things it cannot buy me as entropy eats into my being (and my landie deteriorates in sympathy)

There are some things wrong in the story, for instance when was Nikki diagnosed with AS? the rather sparse press reports suggest that the dx existed long before it did in the books.

Just who is spinning this story?

Ariel Azarel said...

This is a great tragedy. I, too, would have thought that someone with Aspergers Syndrome in a higher economic class, like Nikki Bacharach, would have had an easier time dealing with the difficulties.

However, the general public is so unaware of the actual issues of autism maybe it doesn't matter much what class one is in. The feelings of isolation, the misunderstood difficulties, are profoundly there for all of us.

I agree with you, Larry. It is frightening that the spin on the story is so inaccurate and begs so many questions.

Hopefully, more information will come out about what was going on in this woman's life. I hope that this sadness will cause people to ask questions and try to understand better what autism is and what it isn't.

Thanks for your thoughtful post, Larry.

Anonymous said...

I feel for Nikki.
I have Asperger's syndrome and this is a very odd world to live in, if you see it differently from 99% of the people around you. But I would not describe my brain as "ravaged" with it. Most of us with Asperger's do not want to be cured. We want to be understood.
(Was "ravaged" her view, or that of someone else? It would be good to know...)

laurentius rex said...

So far as I am aware the phrase comes from the press agency who handles the Bacharach's affairs.

I have emailed them about this phrase, but don't hold out much hope of a response.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad I found you guys. My 7 year old son has Asperger's and I would never describe his brain as "ravaged" with Asperger's. He actually enjoys his Asperger's and has fun with it. I have explained that the Asperger's is what makes his mind never be "quiet", but it's also what makes him SO smart, have such a remarkable memory, and be able to add up so many numbers in his head.

As a special education coordinator for a large school district, I find it hard to believe that even with rich parents, she did not get the help she needed. Maybe it was the poor eyesight that troubled her, as Aspie's rely so heavily on their visual input.

I will put this site on my favorite places.


mike stanton said...

On another list someone mentioned that she was born premature and this may have contributed to her poor eyesight. Apparently she was depressed because poor eyesight, not Aspergers prevented her from pursuing her chosen career.

So she was ravaged by prematurity. Aspergers gave her a reason to live - her special interest in geology. An accident of birth deprived of the means to follow her dream.

laurentius rex said...

I have just written a letter to the Independent commenting on this article

Mike Stanton has suggested I post a copy here

Dear Editor

As a person who has Asperger's syndrome (I do not like to say I "suffer") from it, I have been concerned at the reporting over the sad loss to us all of Nikki Bacharach and the potential fall out that has for "medicalising" our condition.

It is not, as the initial press release suggested, something that ravages ones brain, as if it were on a par with Alzheimer's, and it is not something that automatically leads to depression.

I have suffered from depression, I have been suicidal, and I am still struggling with depression now, but I ascribe the reasons for my depression to my reaction to financial difficulty, health problems not related to AS, and issues peripheral to AS. In fact living in a world that treats autism as a "disease" to be eradicated rather than a different set of perceptions and cognition to be accommodated in a world where the majority are not like us is what makes it difficult. Particularly the assumptions of others about our capacity for empathy, ability to contribute to society and such and so on.

I suspect there is a lot more to Nikki's passing than we will ever know and the story behind it is something we can only speculate about, it does not help anybody to see it sensationalised into a "tragic affliction" that ravages one brain, the only escape from which is a peaceful death.

It has been hinted at that Nikki was not able to pursue her chosen career after graduating, that is something I fear too, even though I am pursuing post grad studies in Autism itself. Perhaps it is the failure to find a valued place in society that is a potential killer, not the condition itself or any concomitant depression.

I do not believe there is any medication that can deal with a depression that arises from the rejection of society, therein the ill lies with society not the "patient"

a concerned mother said...

I have always wondered what had happened to the Bacharach baby and was saddened at the news that Nikki Bacharach had taken her own life. I feel a connection with Nikki and her parents because my daughter was born the same day at the same hospital, in Glendale CA, and was also premature. I would visit the Bacharach baby at the same time I would visit my own daughter and knew the feeling of watching such a small person fight for life. I don't know if being born premature "caused" her AS or bad eyesight, but my heart goes out to her parents now as it did then.

Linda said...

I have a 25 year old son recently diagnosed with Aspergers. I understand him now, so much more than I did in the past. As a teenager he was frequently depressed. He had no friends growing up. And, he was completley focused on the weather all time. He watched the weather channel 24/7, when other kids were out riding bikes and etc. He felt so alone. Even though he at least always had me.
He too was born prematurely. I wonder if that is the common denominator.
He is currently getting a degree in Climatlogy and looks forward to a carreer in that field.
As a mother of an Aspie, I need to read and hear more positive stories of people with AS.
My condolences to the Bacharachs.