Disability Day of Mourning - Online Vigil 2021

Over 700 disabled people have been murdered by their caregivers in the past 5 years. We must stand together to condemn these acts and change the way disabled life is regarded as disposable.

Each year on March 1st, the Pittsburgh disability community comes together to mourn and call for justice for the dozens of disabled people murdered by their parents and caregivers. As we come together for the eighth year in Pittsburgh, we embrace our community and reject narratives that dehumanize us and cast our deaths as good or justified.

People with disabilities are twice as likely as non-disabled people to be victims of violent crime. Every year, the national media covers dozens of stories about murders of people with disabilities by family members or caregivers, and many more go unnoticed. Too often, the coverage focuses on sympathy for the murderer, because they had to live with or care for a person with a disability. The message to the public is that our lives—not our deaths—are the tragedy.

Mourn for the dead... and fight like hell for the living. - Mary Harris "Mother" Jones


Cori, a white person with glasses and undercut brown hair smiles at the camera.

Cori is a nonbinary, disabled social worker and co-founder of the Pittsburgh Center for Autistic Advocacy. A community organizer by training, Cori works to create connection, community, and cross-movement solidarity.

Opal, a white nonbinary person with light brown hair and bright blue eyes looks into the camera with a subtle smile.Opal is an Autistic, disabled parent of Autistic, disabled children. Opal is non-binary, and uses they/them pronouns. Opal is the Assistant Director of Pittsburgh Center for Autistic Advocacy, and works for a future that is just, equitable, and joyful.
Jessica Benham, a white woman with brown hair, wearing deep purple formalwear, smiles at the camera.Jessica Benham is the State Representative for PA House District 36. She was co-founder of the Pittsburgh Center for Autistic Advocacy (PCAA), where she worked to ensure that individuals with disabilities are treated fairly in the legislative process. While a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, she was involved in the effort to organize a union of graduate student workers. Jessica is the first openly Autistic state legislator in PA and the first out LGBTQ+ woman in the state house. She has focused on fighting for access to healthcare, a clean and healthy environment, fair funding for education, and LGBTQ and disability rights.
Sharon, a white woman with blond hair and glasses, wears a pink sweater and smiles at the camera.Sharon Janosik (she/her) is an Autistic adult, parent, Special Education Advisory Panel member, volunteer Family Leader with Families 2 the Max, volunteer individual & systemic education and disability advocate.
Bethany, a white woman with glasses and dark hair pulled back from her face, smiles at the camera.

Bethany is a disabled person and a doctor, who believes the two are not mutually exclusive.

What’s Next?

Crisis Resources

The vigil can bring up many different kinds of feelings. It is okay not to be okay. If you are in crisis please do not hesitate to reach out.

  • Re:solve Crisis Network: 1-888-796-8226
  • Trans LifeLine: 877-565-8860
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
  • Center for Victims Hotline: 866-644-2882
  • Deaf Crisis Line: VP: 321-800-3323

Help with Self-Care

Access Information

Automatic live captioning and ASL interpretation will be provided. For additional access needs or questions, please email info@autisticpgh.org.

If you believe a person with a disability is in danger or being abused call:
Childline: 1-800-932-0313
Adult Protective Services: 1-800-490-8505

decorative, stylized representations of candles

PCAA extends our special thanks to the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Charity Kheshgi, Luca Salerno, Katie Keane, and PCAA’s amazing team of volunteers for their roles in making this event possible.