Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Suicide and Suicide Attempts Higher Among People With Autism Spectrum Disorder

People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have higher rates of suicide and suicide attempts than people without ASD, a study published today in JAMA Network Open has found.

Kairi Kõlves, Ph.D., of Griffith University in Mt. Gravatt, Queensland, Australia, and colleagues analyzed data collected by the Danish Civil Registration System between January 1995 and December 2016 for more than 6.5 million people in Denmark aged 10 years or older. Among those individuals, 35,020 had received a diagnosis of ASD. There were 64,109 suicide attempts among all registered individuals, 587 of them by people with ASD, and there were 14,197 suicides, 53 of them by people with ASD.

The researchers found that people with ASD had 3.19 times the rate of attempted suicide and 3.75 times the rate of suicide of those without ASD. Compared with people who did not have any psychiatric disorders, people diagnosed with only ASD had 1.33 times the rate of attempted suicide, and people who had comorbid psychiatric disorders in addition to ASD had 9.27 times the rate of attempted suicide. More than 90% of people with ASD who attempted suicide or died by suicide had at least one other psychiatric condition.

“A possible causal mechanism linking ASD to suicidality, particularly in adults, may be a combination of social isolation and poor access to health care,” the researchers wrote. “[I]t is essential to expand support and services for adults with ASD, especially those with psychiatric comorbidity, considering the higher risk of suicide attempt throughout the life span.”

Females with ASD had 4.41 times the rate of suicide attempts compared with males with the disorder, a finding that points to a need to improve diagnostic tools to avoid delays in treating ASD in females, the researchers wrote.

For related information, see the Psychiatric Services article “Self-Injurious Behavior Among Adults With ASD: Hospitalizations, Length of Stay, and Costs of Resources to Deliver Care.”

(Image: iStock/FilippoBacci)

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