Risk of suicide “three times higher” among autistic population, study reveals

People with autism are three times more likely to attempt to commit suicide than the general population, a major study has revealed.

The research aims to highlights gaps in mental health care support for adults with neurodivergent conditions.

To carry out the study, the authors looked at the medical records of more than six million people aged 10 and older. Around 35,000 of these participants were clinically diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

It was found that those with ASD had either took their own life or attempted suicide at a rate three times higher than those without the condition.

The research also found that rates of suicide or attempted suicide were higher among autistic women, as well as those who also had psychiatric conditions – rising to four times the risk compared to men.

The authors argued that delayed diagnosis times for women, and therefore delayed treatments, were to blame for higher rates among this demographic.

Women and girls are also much more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, the report adds.

Commenting on the research, autism expert Dr Donna Murray said: “This study out of Denmark is an important step forward in understanding the risk for suicide in people with autism.

“This gives us a much more realistic understanding of how common this is for autistic people versus the general population, and by looking at the correlation with different risk factors, helps to pinpoint what we might be able to do to reduce suicide risk.”

According to the latest statistics, autism affects around one in every 100 people, meaning there are around 700,000 individuals on the autism spectrum in the UK.

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