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Suicide in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Sami Richa, Mario Fahed, Elias Khoury & Brian Mishara
Archives of Suicide Research; Volume 18, Issue 4, 2014, Published online: 07 Nov 2014.

This review focuses on suicide in patients with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) as well as risk factors and comorbidities of persons with ASD who have attempted suicide. Research was conducted by searching PubMed and Psychinfo for articles. Suicide in ASD is largely understudied. Although suicide is common in clinical samples, we have little knowledge of suicide in persons with ASD in the general population. Comorbidity, particularly with depression and other affective disorders or schizoid disorders and psychotic symptoms, is often reported, so it is difficult to determine if suicidality is associated with ASD or the comorbid disorder. Clinical samples suggest that suicide occurs more frequently in high functioning autism. Physical and sexual abuse, bullying, and changes in routine are precipitating events associated with suicide risk. Persons with ASD present risk factors inherent to their diagnosis (deficit in expression of feelings and thoughts), along with risk factors pertaining to the general population (abuse, depression, anxiety, etc.). The inability of persons with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) to express emotions and thoughts makes the diagnosis of suicidal ideation difficult and demands important adjustments to traditional psychotherapeutic interventions. More research is needed to determine the incidence of suicidal behaviors in persons with ASD, to identify risk and protective factors, as well as to assess the effectiveness of prevention strategies and interventions.



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