Depressed adults with Asperger’s at higher risk for suicide

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According to new research, adults who have Asperger’s syndrome are at a much higher risk of experiencing suicidal thoughts than the rest of the public.

Asperger’s syndrome is on the spectrum

Asperger’s syndrome is a type of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) characterized by difficulty with communication, social interaction and repetitive patterns of behavior. People with Asperger’s tend to have good cognitive and language skills which differentiates them from others on the spectrum. Asperger’s is frequently linked with depression although no studies have previously been done on suicidal ideation.

Four times more likely to consider suicide

In this study, researchers found that 66% of participants with Asperger’s reported suicidal thoughts compared to only 17% of the general population and 59% of patients with psychosis. Suicidal thoughts were more common among Asperger adults who had a history of depression. People with a history of depression were four times more likely to have suicidal thoughts and twice as likely to plan a suicide. Those with autistic traits were even more likely to plan or attempt suicide.

Social isolation, loneliness and social exclusion

“Adults with Asperger’s syndrome often suffer with secondary depression due to social isolation, loneliness, social exclusion, lack of community services, underachievement and unemployment. Their depression and risk of suicide are preventable with the appropriate support. This study should be a wake-up call for the urgent need for high quality services, to prevent the tragic waste of even a single life,” said Prof. Simon Baron-Cohen of the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge.

Source: Honor Whiteman/MedicalNewsToday, The Lancet Psychiatry


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