Autistic people 9 times more likely to die early


UK – Autistic people without a learning disability have a nine times higher than average premature mortality rate, with suicide a principal cause.

As an autistic person, I am part of a group which has a significantly higher risk of suicide than the general population. This is what I discovered recently, when the charity Autistica released its report into premature mortality. It makes disturbing reading for anyone with a connection to autism.

The report, Personal Tragedies, Public Crisis (pdf), draws on the findings of thelargest study of its kind into premature mortality in autism conducted at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. Published at the close of 2015, it revealed autistic people without a learning disability had a nine times higher than average premature mortality rate, with suicide a principal cause.

Dr Sarah Cassidy of Coventry University, who has studied the suicide levels in this group, says: “Three recent high quality studies have uncovered shockingly high rates of suicidal thoughts, behaviour and completed suicide in autistic adults. Our recent research showed that 66% of autistic adults had contemplated suicide in their lifetime. This was significantly higher than patients with psychoses, a high risk group in which suicide has been extensively covered.” Cassidy says there is an urgent need for more research to prevent suicide in autism: “Far more research is needed, including the systematic collections and analysis of mortality data if we are to meaningfully tackle the appalling mortality gap.”

Read the rest of the article on the Guardian website.