My autistic son tried to hang himself and screamed he wanted to die aged NINE – we had to wait a year for help

A DESPERATE single mum has described the harrowing moment her nine-year-old son screamed he wanted to die, while trying to hang himself.

Leanne Foote, 39, was so worried about her son Drew, who has autism, that she spent night after night without sleep to make sure he wasn't hurting himself.

The mum-of-four, from Cumbria, also sacrificed her own personal life – and has not had a relationship for eight years.

Though it was a struggle to get help, Drew, now 11, is now receiving expert therapy and Leanne believes their crisis is over – for the time being.

The courageous mum is telling her story to offer her support to other families. Drew's ordeal was even discussed in parliament, where their MP pleaded for more money for children's mental health services.

It comes just days after Hugh Jackman and other celebs rallied around bullied Quaden Bayles, who has dwarfism.

The Aussie lad left the internet in tears after his mum shared a video of him crying and saying "kill me".

Leanne said: “There is nothing so frightening and challenging as hearing your own child say they want to die.

“Drew would scream at me that his ‘head was full’ and he couldn’t take it any more.

“I felt so isolated, sitting up, all night every night, watching him, terrified he might try to hurt himself.

“I felt like I’d failed as a mum, like it was my fault somehow. His condition has affected not just me, but my other children too.

“My relationship broke down, some of my friends drifted away. They just couldn’t cope with the way Drew was.”

Leanne suspected Drew had problems right from his birth in January 2009. He screamed a lot and was a grizzly, unsettled baby.

Leanne, who also has two sons aged 20 and nine, and a 19-year-old daughter, said: “I wasn’t a first-time mum. I thought he would grow out of it.”

But by the time he started school, Drew was already showing extreme behaviour. He was excluded aged five for biting and attacking another child.

He did not mix well with other children and had legendary meltdowns which caused one teacher to walk out of her job – on the first day.

There is nothing so frightening and challenging as hearing your own child say they want to die

Leanne said: “I was mortified. My other children went through school without a single problem and this was such a shock for me.

“The school and the teachers were wonderful, they were so supportive.

“They were sure Drew had autism but we had to wait a long time for funding for help. In the meantime, I was left alone to cope.

“Drew had major meltdowns and I was exhausted, looking after him and my other three children. I was so tired, I couldn’t even hold a conversation with anyone. 

“My older kids had to step in and help. I couldn’t even think about having a boyfriend because it would never work. It wasn’t fair on anyone.

“Drew was a lovely little boy with a great sense of humour and mischief, but he really struggled with anxiety and he would go into panic at the smallest thing.

“He would only eat three or four simple foods, anything else would send him into a spiral.

“He had to have his own bedroom in case he lashed out at his little brother, which meant the other kids were piled in together.”

It wasn't until Drew was eight that he was officially diagnosed with autism.

Then in summer 2018, aged nine, he began threatening to kill himself.

Leanne said: “It was dreadful, he’d say his head was full and he wanted to die and he was going to kill himself.

One day, he started trying to hang himself. I had to fight with him to stop him

“He literally could not cope with what was in his own head.

“One day, he had worked himself up into a state, that was when he started trying to hang himself.

“I had to fight with him to stop him.

“Even then, he talked about doing it again and I was terrified he would find a way. I watched him all the time, even at night.”


EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.

It doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.

It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.

And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.

Yet it's rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.

That is why The Sun launched the You're Not Alone campaign.

The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.

Let's all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You're Not Alone.

If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:

  • CALM,, 0800 585 858
  • Heads Together,
  • Mind,, 0300 123 3393
  • Papyrus,, 0800 068 41 41
  • Samaritans,, 116 123

Drew was referred for mental health help but he waited over a year before a place became available. He is now receiving therapy and is also attending a specialist school where he is settled and happy.

Leanne said: “He is much better. He is happy and he adores his siblings.

“He is a loving, funny, gorgeous little boy. We went on holiday for the first time ever recently and Drew had so much fun.

“He struggles with friendships, he always will, but he is learning to cope with that.

“He has a mental age of four, and he cannot read or write, but he can communicate.

“I know we will face more challenges in the future and I worry about what life holds for a boy like Drew.

“I am speaking out for all those children who are in some way different – they need our help and our understanding.

“For now, I feel lucky, because life is going well for my son. But he and others like him will always need support.”

Earlier this month, Christine McGuiness revealed her and Paddy's youngest daughter has autism – as well as her twins.

We also spoke to a mum who has three kids with autism just like Christine.

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