Autism Can Mask the Warning Signs of Suicide

August 24, 2018

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

The Atlantic

Efforts are increasing to better understand and address suicide risk among people with autism. Some findings suggest that autism can increase the risk of suicide and mental health issues. Researchers are examining this link more closely, trying to identify risks that may be unique to this population, such as social challenges and communication difficulties. For example, a recent study in the UK found that children who struggle to communicate in social situations are at higher risk of suicidal behavior, even if they do not have autism. Studies have also found that young people with autism are more likely to experience bullying, which may lead to depression and anxiety. Other efforts are trying to understand how suicide risk may present differently in people with autism, and adapt screening and assessment tools so that they are more sensitive to the needs of that population. “When asking questions, we need to take into consideration the individual’s social, cognitive, and communication challenges,” said Roma A. Vasa of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at Kennedy Krieger Institute. “It is important to understand how they perceive their social world and whether they feel integrated or isolated.”