Romford man calls for support for Asperger’s adults after son’s death

Joe Shaw

Joe Shaw - Credit: Archant

»The father of a teenager with Asperger’s syndrome who killed himself by jumping in front of a train is calling for more support for adults with the condition.

Joe Shaw, 19, of Eugene Close, Romford, died on March 6 last year after becoming convinced he had a serious illness, an inquest at Walthamstow Coroner’s Court heard.

His dad Malcolm Shaw said: “It was like he had come to a decision that his life was going to be blighted by some serious condition and he just said that it was enough.

“It was an irrational thought but, because of his Asperger’s, he couldn’t see it for what it was and once he had made his mind up that was it.”

Earlier on the day he died, Joe had been to the doctor about a lump in his neck and was told that it was a swollen gland.

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But after going home, he wrote a letter saying that he believed he had a serious health condition and wanted to end his life.

Train driver Paul Smith saw Joe come running from the platform where he was hit by the 80mph Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria train.

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The former Redden Court student died as a result of multiple injuries.

Joe’s mum Jacqueline Shaw described him as an “intelligent and witty teenager”.

She said: “He studied geology at Royal Holloway University and was very modest about his achievements.

“He loved motor racing and achieved his dream of racing at Brands Hatch and he taught himself to play the guitar. He has left the whole family broken-hearted but we will love him always.”

Joe was diagnosed with the autistic disorder in 1996 but lived a relatively normal life.


Mr Shaw said his son had become convinced that he had a cancer and would visit the doctor who would talk him out of that belief.

Mr Shaw is now calling for more support for teenagers and adults with the condition.

He said: “As a child, people with the disorder fall under the care of social services so they get lots of support.

“But once you are an adult, the support is not there and a lot of teenagers and adults will go on to have these obsessions.

“Asperger’s syndrome affects people in different ways and it was going to be a constant blight on Joe’s life.

“If there is anything that I want to come from Joe’s death, it is that there should be more support for people with the condition.”

Verdict: He killed himself.

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