People with Asperger’s More Likely to Experience Suicidal Thoughts

Unhappy man sitting outsideAsperger’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 Depression

People with Asperger’s may feel isolated 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. 

References:

  1. 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
  2. Asperger syndrome fact sheet. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/asperger/detail_asperger.htm

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  • brennan

    brennan

    June 30th, 2014 at 2:24 PM

    ummmm very small group of people to be basing these conclusions on yes?

  • Tori

    Tori

    July 4th, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    The most difficult challenge here is that I don’t think that Asperger’s is widely understood and so there is still a great big misunderstanding about what it means and there are also very few resources available for those families who find themseleves encountering it. I know that there needs to be more education about what this is and how we can help, and the things that work for those with Asperger’s could be radically different and unique than that whch we find in the rest of the general population.

  • Robert A.

    Robert A.

    July 6th, 2014 at 5:42 AM

    It is likely that those with Asperger’s feel so completely different from others that many times this feels like the only logical solution for them. Even though we know that it isn’t anywhere near logical, once you have experienced this pain and isolation for so long you are searching for the easy way to get out of that.

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