The Link between Autism and Suicide Risk | Interactive Autism Network

Mr. A, a middle-aged chemist, came to a Baltimore emergency room after a suicide attempt. He said he was “thoroughly depressed.” He had been fired after throwing a chair at his boss, not his first outburst at work. Doctors admitted him to the hospital, where they became suspicious of his rigidity, social awkwardness, and trouble making eye contact. After talking to his parents about his childhood, hospital psychiatrists settled on an unexpected diagnosis. In addition to psychiatric and alcohol abuse problems, Mr. A. had autism spectrum disorder, they said.1

Researchers and doctors alike are focusing on a link between autism and suicidal thoughts, plans, or actions. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for teenagers and young adults in the United States and abroad.2-5 In the U.S. alone, almost 6,000 youth died by suicide in 2015; many, many others thought about it, or tried to end their own lives.6

A growing number of scientists want to know more about how this public health crisis affects people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Studies show that people with autism are at higher risk for suicidal thoughts, plans, or actions than the general public, although how much higher varies widely among the studies.5,7-14 The evidence that suicide is a critical issue in autism is “increasingly strong,” two researchers concluded after analyzing 13 studies about it.12

“It’s shocking and sad,” said Alycia Halladay, PhD, of the Autism Science Foundation, in a 2018 podcast, “Sobering Statistics on Suicide.”

 

Source: The Link between Autism and Suicide Risk | Interactive Autism Network

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