Suicidal thoughts and autism are not the same thing. Suicidal thoughts can also be present in people who are not on the spectrum, or with other mental health conditions as well. Autism is a condition that makes communication difficult for some autistic individuals, but does not mean they have suicidal thoughts
Suicide is often said to be a long-term solution to a short-term issue. But what if that thinking is caused by autism?
Autism is a neurodevelopmental illness that affects children at a young age and may be treated but not cured. Many autistic individuals live long, happy, and meaningful lives. Teasing, loneliness, social pressure, and financial hardship are all common side effects of autism. Those issues might seem interminable and daunting.
The danger of suicide in people with autism is real, and critical indications might go missed. Don’t wait if you’re worried about your future or suspect someone else is suffering.
Start a discussion and involve professionals such as psychiatrists in it. You can come up with strategies to relieve stress and calm harmful ideas if you work together.
This work is really important. It’s time to get assistance if you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts or if you know someone who is.
Suicide Prevalence & Risk Factors
According to studies, persons with autism have a greater risk of suicide than those who do not have autism. Those that exhibit a certain set of characteristics are considerably more inclined to consider self-harm.
Researchers looked at individuals with autism aged 7 to 13 years old in a 2013 study. They completed evaluations in the following areas:
- There is a functional impairment.
- Problems with behavior.
- Emotional issues.
According to the study, around 11% of these persons had suicide thoughts or acts.
This danger is there throughout one’s life. In a separate 2018 study, researchers looked at 164 persons with autism and 169 people who did not have autism. At the conclusion of the research, 72 percent of autistic individuals were considered to be at high risk of suicide, compared to 33 percent of non-autistic persons.
Adults with self-reported autistic characteristics, even without a diagnosis, had a greater suicide risk than those without similar qualities, according to the study.
Self-harm is a possibility for anybody with autism, but studies show that persons who are struggling with these challenges are at an especially greater risk. The following are some of the issues:
- Social communication is hampered. Some autistic persons are able to have in-depth talks and convey their feelings. Others are unable to do so, and this dysfunction, according to studies, increases the likelihood of suicide.
- Depression. Some autistic persons satisfy the diagnostic criteria for clinical depression. Persons who are depressed are far more prone to consider suicide than people who are not depressed. Loneliness and depression are related, according to researchers, and when they come together, thoughts of self-harm increase.
- Bullying. People with autism have a tendency to stand out, which may lead to bullying. According to researchers, persistent bullying may lead to suicide thoughts, especially in those who are unable to avoid being targeted.
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition in which a (ADHD). According to the researchers, women with autism are at the highest risk. One in every five women with both illnesses tries suicide (compared with one in eleven men who have both conditions).
- Camouflaging. Some persons with autism spend the majority of their days trying to conceal their autistic symptoms. It’s a draining way of life, and studies believe it raises the chance of suicide.
Autism sufferers may potentially confront genuine dangers that experts have yet to investigate. They may be under financial strain as a result of a scarcity of job possibilities, for example. Even though they really want to connect, they may feel alienated and alone, and attending occasions such as weddings and funerals may exacerbate their feeling of loss.
Autism affects people differently, and the hazards that one person faces may not apply to everyone else. The study, on the other hand, is unmistakable. Many persons with autism either contemplate or engage in self-harm.
Suicide Warning Signs in the Past
Suicidal ideas aren’t limited to those with autism. Many individuals consider suicide, and professionals share their tales to educate others recognize the indications of suffering.
These indicators, according to experts, indicate that someone is considering suicide:
- Someone is plotting a means to hurt oneself. They may say farewell to friends and give up items as their plans crystallize.
- Discussing: Some individuals speak about suicide thoughts or emotions of helplessness, despair, or anguish with others.
- Changes in their mood: They may seem worried, irritated, furious, or melancholy. They may easily change from one attitude to another.
- Withdrawal: They may withdraw from those they care about. They may refuse to attend family events or cease responding calls.
- Changes in behavior occur. They may sleep more or less, use alcohol or drugs, or change their food patterns.
This list was created with neurotypicals in mind, thus some of the indications listed here may not apply to someone with autism, but there is a chance that they may. Someone with autism, for example, may devise intricate suicide plans, which may include mapping out possibilities, and share them with you. Someone with autism may get infatuated with celebrities who have committed suicide.
Consider this list before concluding that nothing on it pertains to you. A few characteristics may apply.
Autism Suicide Warning Signs
Conversation is included in several conventional suicide red flags. People communicate about their feelings and thoughts, and their comments disturb the people they care about. Autism has the ability to change those symptoms.
According to researchers, some persons with autism fail to articulate their feelings, which makes uncomfortable conversations difficult. They may not be able to:
- Discuss your sentiments of sadness or loss.
- Cry aloud.
- Emotions may be expressed via body language.
- Outsiders should be informed of your intentions.
Their tough sentiments exist, but they may need some assistance in expressing them. According to experts, families can:
- Try engaging in a discussion. Don’t assume that someone with autism doesn’t have anything to say or that they won’t speak out. Discuss the indications you’ve seen. Allow enough space between your remarks for the individual to speak when the time comes.
- Keep an eye out for any changes. Sleep or eating patterns that change might indicate sadness. Abandonment of the things a person formerly loved might also be a factor.
- Keep an eye out for social signs. Is it difficult for the individual to spend time with others? When the individual returns from social events, does he or she seem agitated?
With an open mind and heart, observe attentively. You won’t be able to alter a person’s mind, and you shouldn’t attempt. However, you have the potential to be an important observer who notices things that others do not. Your insights can be crucial in saving the person’s life.
Suicidal ideas seldom vanish on their own. Suicide triggers are addressed in treatment programs, allowing patients to go on to happier and healthier lives.
A suicide prevention strategy for persons with autism could include:
- Officials from the school. Teachers and administrators must be part of the solution if bullying causes suicide ideation. Families may demand a step-by-step plan to keep their children safe while they are at school. When autistic children feel comfortable, they are less likely to consider harming themselves.
- Mental health issues are at the root of the problem. Suicide risk is increased by depression, anxiety, and ADHD. Medication and other therapies may be used to help correct imbalances and alleviate discomfort.
- Communication. It is possible to find answers through sharing uncomfortable feelings. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is one kind of therapy that may assist persons with autism communicate with their family about their feelings.
- Situations in which people interact. Loneliness and isolation may contribute to a feeling of pessimism, yet finding and making friends can be difficult for some individuals with autism. According to experts, treatment to lessen social anxiety may assist persons with autism in making the relationships they want. People with autism feel more comfortable in life once these ties are in place.
Suicide attempts and thoughts of suicide are medical and mental crises. Some persons with autism must spend time in inpatient institutions to ensure their safety until the crisis is resolved.
If you see any indicators, contact your loved one’s doctor or another mental health expert right once. Get the assistance you need right now.
You’ve recognized the warning signs of suicide and know you need to act, but you can’t reach the person’s doctor fast away. What should be the next step?
If you believe someone is in danger, dial 911 and ask for assistance. You may also call one of the following national or municipal hotlines:
- Call 1-800-273-8255 for free and confidential assistance from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Experts are accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and are ready to help anyone who are contemplating suicide, as well as their loved ones. This nationwide helpline has dealt with individuals from many walks of life, including those who have autism.
- Text the word “home” to the number 741741. A crisis counselor will respond with a text message to begin a chat. This application is great for autistic persons who prefer computer communication over face-to-face conversations.
- Call 1-800-273-8255 to talk with an expert about a current situation from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This organization also includes a wealth of online resources for persons in crisis and those who care about them.
- Call 1-888-AUTISM2 to talk with a crisis support professional from the Autism Response Team. Get treatment right now if you’re having a suicidal ideation, or use this resource to help you deal with other types of mental health issues. This response team has been specially trained to cope with persons who have autism.
Visit the Suicide Prevention Resource Center to learn more about how suicidal thoughts become acts. This company offers training programs to help you enhance your skills and knowledge.
Parents & Teachers: Act Quickly
Consider the following scenario: You have a connection with an autistic youngster. Although you are not the child’s main caregiver, you are concerned for his or her health and well-being. You’ve seen warning indications. So, what’s next?
Don’t dismiss the symptoms you see. Take the following actions right now:
- Make your voice heard. Inform the child’s parents of what you’ve seen. If it’s useful, provide dates and times. Be as precise as possible.
- Seek the advice of a professional. Make contact with the child’s doctor or therapist if possible. These specialists must intervene right away, and the youngster must be closely observed until they arrive.
- Listen. Allow the individual to express uncomfortable emotions. Telling someone they can’t or shouldn’t speak about their experiences isn’t a good idea. It goes a long way toward improving mental health if they can feel less alone.
- Provide assistance. Make no promises you can’t fulfill, but encourage the individual to feel that therapy works and that things may improve. There is reason to be optimistic.
You may be able to save a child’s life. Take responsibility for your actions and assist the person you care about. Despite the fact that suicide thoughts and autism often coexist, many individuals with autism live joyful, fulfilling lives. You may assist your loved one in accepting this kind of future.
Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors in Youth With Autism Spectrum Disorders: Phenomenology and Clinical Correlates. (Updated February 2013). The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders is a publication dedicated to the study of autism and developmental disorders.
Suicidality Risk Markers in Autistic Adults (July of this year). Autism is a genetic disorder.
In late adolescence, autistic traits are linked to suicidal thoughts, plans, and self-harm in a population-based cohort study. (April 2018). The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s journal.
Understanding Depression and Suicidal Thoughts in Autism: Loneliness as a Potential Mechanism (February of this year). Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) research
Suicide Thoughts and Attempts in Autistic Children (January 2013). Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) research
Suicide Attempts by Autistic Women are Twice as Common as Suicide Attempts by Autistic Men. (Updated August 2019). Spectrum.
Suicide as a Hidden Risk in Autism. (2018, August). Spectrum.
Suicide Prevention is a program that aims to prevent suicide. The National Institute of Mental Health is a federal agency that studies mental illness.
Suicide is a common occurrence among people with autism spectrum disorders. (April 14, 2014) Suicide Research Archives.
Autism Increases the Risk of Suicide (June 2019). Autism Speaks is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about
Suicide and Autism: Is There a Connection? (February 2019). Today’s Psychology.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is located at: http://www.nationalsuicidepreventionlifeline.org
Home. Text Line for Emergencies.
Seek assistance. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing suicide.
Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s home page.
The Autism Response Team is a group of people that work together to help Autism Speaks is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about
8 Crucial Counter-Suicide Measures (Updated April 2019) Autism Speaks is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about
Someone Else Needs Your Help. Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing suicide.
Adults With Autistic Traits Who Have Attempted Suicide (As of June 2019). Autism is a genetic disorder.
A study finds that women with autism are three times as likely than their peers to commit suicide. (As of January 2019) KUTV.
Janice is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Special Education. She also holds a Master of Science in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) from Queen’s University, Belfast. She has worked with and case managed children and youth with autism and other intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in home and residential setting since 2013.