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ASAN Atlanta Statement on the Murder of Dustin Hicks

November 10, 2015

The Atlanta Chapter of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network mourns the loss of Dustin Hicks, an Autistic youth in Dawson County, GA. His mother murdered him before taking her own life. The narratives are already drifting to talk of a mercy killing. ASAN Atlanta takes this opportunity to remind everyone of the value of disabled lives. We urge the public and journalists to remember it is our deaths that are a tragedy, not our lives.

No matter the challenges Dustin Hicks might have faced, he was a person who deserves respect. No matter the challenges he might have faced, being disabled will never equal a mercy killing. “Quality of life,” and “health challenges” have been brought up. These attempt to compare a person’s life to that of a non-disabled person to “prove” that their life was worth less. These quality of life judgments influence all the ways a disabled person gets treated. They are wrong.

Dustin Hicks looked forward to meeting his father at the door. His mother made sure he never will again. People will allege it was the stress of parenting someone like him. We reject this narrative. He was a wanted person. The autistic community wanted him. We will never have the opportunity to see what he could have contributed or said to us in the future. 

We urge responsible reporting as already news stations question whether it was a mercy killing. We urge media and people to avoid framing this as the inevitable result of the burden of disability. Instead, mourn his death like you would for a non-disabled person murdered by their parent(s).

We will add his name to an ever-growing list that we read aloud every year. We hold Days of Mourning: Remembering People with Disabilities Murdered by Caregivers each March. We will mourn him and think of what could have been, and vow to continue our fight for the living.

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