- Category : 1966-births
- Type : GP
- Profile : 6/2 - Role Model / Hermit
- Definition : Split - Small (1,13)
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Cycles 1
American suicide and child of noted family, the only child of famous pop songwriter Burt Bacharach and actress Angie Dickinson (married 1965-1980), both in their second marriage. Lea (most people called her Nikki) was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism, following her premature birth in 1966. She spent the first three months of her life in an incubator. While growing up, her parents say she “lived a happy life in and around Beverly Hills” with lots of attention. As a teenager, Nikki spent nine years at the Wilson Center, a special psychiatric residential treatment facility for adolescents located in Faribault, Minnesota.
Symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome include obsessive-repetitive routines, the inability to have empathy or to look people straight in the eye. Sufferers also have difficulty understanding other people’s perspectives or viewpoints and often have very narrow interests. They can also have a sensitivity to sounds, smells and tastes. Even when their IQs are well above average, normal social interaction with the outside world remains limited. The cause of autism is not known, but it is considered a “spectrum disorder” because it affects different people in different ways. Asperger’s was not officially recognized as a syndrome until 1994.
Her father, realizing the full extent of her disorder in 1969, wrote a song about her called “Nikki”, which was used as the theme music for the US TV network ABC’s Movie of the Week. While best known now as an instrumental piece, it originally had very touching lyrics, including the chorus: “Nikki, it’s you; Nikki where can you be?; It’s you, no one but you for me; I’ve been so lonely since you went away; I won’t spend a happy day till you’re back in my arms….”
Nikki and her family struggled with the developmental issues of the disease for decades and she managed to received a solid education. Nikki loved science, especially astronomy, looking through telescopes and geology. She studied geology at Cal Lutheran University and with her father’s support, she managed to complete her degree. Unfortunately, she could not pursue a career in the field due to poor eyesight.
On January 4, 2007 came the shocking news that Nikki had taken her own life at age 40. A brief statement from her parents said only that “our only daughter has killed herself at her apartment in the suburb of Thousand Oaks, north of Los Angeles, at about 8:00 pm.” The Ventura County coroner’s office said she had suffocated herself using a plastic bag and helium. Family spokesperson Linda Dozoretz was quoted in the media as saying Nikki “quietly and peacefully committed suicide to escape the ravages to her brain brought on by Asperger’s.” She went on to say “She loved kitties, earthquakes, glacial calving, meteor showers, science, blue skies, sunsets and Tahiti. She was one of the most beautiful creatures created on this earth and she is now in the white light, at peace.” Burt Bacharach has three children from other marriages, while Nikki was the only child of Angie Dickenson.
Linda Dozoretz’s comment to the media concerning “ravages to the brain brought on by Asperger’s” has drawn heavy criticism from many organizations in the autism community. Their research shows that unlike Alzheimer’s Disease, which IS a degenerative disease of the brain, Asperger’s causes no such deterioration of the brain and is therefore not a reason in itself to commit suicide. They were appalled that such misinformation has been given to the media as an excuse for Nikki’s suicide. Depression, brought on by decades of struggling with Asperger’s Syndrome is a far more likely motivator for suicide, they speculated. It is the hope of the autism community that a restatement will be forthcoming once the family bereavement has subsided.