Two thirds of adults with high functioning autism or Asperger’s Syndrome have suicidal thoughts, reports a recent study. In addition, suicidal thoughts are common among teens and young adults with autism.
Like Robin Williams, many people who commit suicide are depressed and this includes people with autism. It can however, be more difficult to detect depression in people with autism. “They may not be able to access or have the vocabulary to describe their emotional state,” says Professor Simon Baron-Cohen of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Furthermore, people with ASD can become fixated on suicide because of rigid thinking and repetitive thoughts – traits that are common in some people with autism.
Baron-Cohen says people with ASD may avoid traditional telephone helplines because of problems with their social skills. Professor Janet Lainhart, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, warns parents and clinicians to take any talk of suicide seriously. “It’s their best attempt to raise a red flag saying that they need help,” says Lainhart.
Information on warning signs and risk factors for suicide is available from:
If you are affected by the issues in this post or need help or support, contact
one of the helplines below:
U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-TALK (8255)
Samaritans Ireland 116 113 and firstname.lastname@example.org
Samaratins UK 08457 90 90 90 and email@example.com and
Chris, PO Box 90 90
Stirling, FK8 2SA
Lifeline Australia 13 11 14
Suicide.org List of international helplines