Asperger’s is an autism-spectrum condition that typically yields high-functioning people who have difficulty with social situations. Everything from romantic relationships to job prospects can be affected by social skills, making the world a challenging—and often hostile—place for people with Asperger’s. According to a new study, people with Asperger’s are significantly more likely to experience suicidal thoughts than neurotypical people.
The Asperger-Suicide Connection
The study surveyed 256 men and 118 women diagnosed with Asperger’s. People with the condition reported a much higher rate of suicidal feelings, with 66% reporting some suicidal tendencies at least once in their lives. Within the general population, only 17% of people experience suicidal feelings. People with Asperger’s experienced higher rates of suicidal thoughts than did people with severe mental health symptoms, such as psychosis. The study found that people experiencing psychotic symptoms had a 59% rate of suicidal thoughts.
Suicidal thoughts don’t always reflect a desire to commit suicide, but researchers found that 35% of study subjects with Asperger’s had planned or attempted suicide. The attempted suicide rate was much higher among those who had both Asperger’s and depression.
Asperger’s and Depressionisolated and undervalued, particularly in a culture that privileges extroversion and strong social skills. Simon Baron-Cohen, one of the lead researchers for the study, argues that a variety of factors make people with Asperger’s more vulnerable to depression, and that depression increases the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Social isolation, lack of community resources, unemployment, exclusion, and similar factors can all conspire to make life more challenging for a person with Asperger’s. Researchers argue that the study should be a wake-up call to the need for better services for people with Asperger’s.
- Adults with Asperger syndrome at significantly higher risk of suicidal thoughts than general population. (2014, June 24). Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140624215940.htm
- Asperger syndrome fact sheet. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/asperger/detail_asperger.htm
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