So I’ve mentioned before that both my case manager and the therapist wanted to have me evaluated to see if I fell on the Autistic Spectrum. This was due to a variety of issues including my Sensory Processing Disorder, issues with eye contact, problems with socializing, and falling a lot. With Kaiser’s evaluation system that took like 3 months to go through I was found not to have an ASD because I did not present symptoms as an infant, though I met enough criteria currently and had since a child. This has been upsetting me a lot. Transferring to UC Davis, I still haven’t made any connections and while I don’t need to have a lot of friends and to be honest am not interested in having a lot of friends, I would like to have one or two. I never seem to say the right thing and I can’t figure out people. My case manager went to a training about a week ago now and she said a lot of females on the spectrum are misdiagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder or Bipolar because Autism is about not being able to control your emotions. I have both. She said if it’s any something she thinks I’m somewhere on the spectrum and that they need to train Kaiser doctors better.
I know several autistic young adults. I found this on the internet the other day:
What do you think the most common cause of premature death is among adults of typical or high intelligence with autism spectrum disorders? It’s suicide.
A large study was recently published in the British Journal of Psychiatry that examined the risk of death among the 27,122 persons diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders in Sweden when compared to age-matched controls. One significant finding from the study is that on average, persons with autism die sixteen years sooner than would be anticipated. The finding we’ll examine more closely is that adults with autism and no intellectual disability are over nine times more likely to commit suicide when compared to their age-matched peers. Unlike the general population, in which men are significantly more likely to commit suicide than women, women with autism were at higher risk of suicide in this study than men.
Last month’s study isn’t the only signal that persons with autism are especially vulnerable to suicide.
- The report of the Independent Mental Health Taskforce to the British National Health Service identified persons as at higher risk of mental health problems.
- A study of 10-14 year-olds with autism reported that 70% of kids with autism also had at least one mental health disorder such as anxiety, ADHD or depression, and 41% had at least two comorbid mental health disorders. Of those with ADHD, 84% received a second comorbid diagnosis.
- Kids with autism were 28 times more likely to experience suicidal ideation than age-matched peers without autism in this study.
- In a study of 374 adults with Asperger’s Disorder, 66% of 367 respondents self-reported suicidal ideation, 127 (35%) of 365 respondents self-reported plans or attempts at suicide, and 116 (31%) of 368 respondents self-reported depression. Adults with Asperger’s syndrome were nearly ten times as likely to report lifetime experience of suicidal ideation than individuals from a general UK population sample, and more prone to suicidal ideation than people with one, two, or more medical illnesses, or people with psychotic illness.
Why might suicide represent such an enormous problem among high-functioning persons with autism spectrum disorders?
They’re more likely to experience social isolation and lack social supports. In the fall of 2014, we shared this anonymous post from a college student describing her experience of trying to attend church as a person with autism. Imagine how the challenges she describes would impact her day to day life outside of church.
High-functioning kids with autism are significantly more likely to become victims of bullying when compared to their peers with autism and intellectual disability. It’s become socially inappropriate to ridicule persons with an obvious disability…less so when the disability isn’t so obvious.
They’re more likely to experience difficulties with executive functioning that may translate into a greater risk of acting upon suicidal impulses, more difficulty employing effective problem-solving skills and more difficulty self-regulating emotions. Learn more here about the challenges persons face with executive functioning challenges.
Their propensity to become very fixated on specific thoughts or ideas may intensify suicidal thoughts, or result in more difficulty letting go of feelings of hopelessness when they occur.
PS I’ve been more suicidal with less friendship and more lonely lately.