Suicide is when someone takes their own life. It’s more common for autistic people to think about suicide, and die by suicide, than the general population.
Research is helping us understand why that is, and what we can do to change it.
Suicidal thoughts in autism
Jump to: Possible triggers
Autistic people have told us that when they are feeling suicidal, they may not show signs that people typically expect. This is because
- they have differences communicating and interacting with other people
- they find it difficult to communicate their thoughts
- they might not want to talk about it
If an autistic person tells you that they are suicidal, it is important to believe them.
It is not known whether factors leading to suicide in autism are the same as in the general population.
There are many different reasons someone may consider taking their own life
- difficult life events
- feeling alone, hopeless, or like things may not get better
- a physical or mental health condition, including depression and anxiety
Autistic people are more likely to have mental health problems like anxiety and depression. Some researchers believe ADHD can increase the risk of suicidality in autistic people.
Autistic people have told us that there may be other reasons why there are higher rates of suicide in autism, including
- delays in receiving a diagnosis
- difficulties accessing support
- poor physical health
- high levels of unemployment
What you can do if you are feeling suicidal
Talk to someone about how you are feeling. There are people who would like to help and will listen to you.
- tell a friend, family member or someone you trust about how you are feeling
- speak to someone on a confidential phone line service
You can call the following numbers in confidence
See your doctor
Autistic people tell us that going to the doctor can be stressful because they feel that health professionals do not understand their needs. But seeing your doctor when you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts is an important step towards looking after yourself.
Your doctor may be able to offer you options, which may help you feel better about aspects of your life that feel difficult at the moment.
Read our advice for seeing your doctor.
If you are worried that an autistic person you know may be suicidal
It may be difficult to ask about how someone is feeling, but if you are worried that an autistic person may be suicidal, the best thing you can do is ask.
If you decide to ask, then listen to what they have to say
- stay non-judgemental
- remain calm
- encourage them to talk about how they are feeling
Remember that suicidal feelings and thoughts may look different in an autistic person. It is important not to make assumptions or judgements. If any autistic person tells you that they are suicidal, you should believe them and do what you can to help.