Identifying Targets to Prevent Suicide in Autism
Identifying Targets to Prevent Suicide in Autism: A Psychological Autopsy Study
Suicide is a devastating consequence of mental illness. Despite 70% of children and 79% of adults diagnosed with autism meeting clinical criteria for a mental health condition, there has been very little research into suicide in autistic people. The limited evidence available shows that 66% of adults with Asperger Syndrome have considered suicide, significantly higher than the UK general population (17%) and patients with psychosis (59%); and 32% have planned or attempted suicide. Suicide is a leading cause of premature death for autistic people. Although people with autism are at increased risk of death by suicide, no research has yet explored why, to enable development of suicide prevention strategies. This research project will utilise psychological autopsy methods to address this knowledge gap. This entails gathering data on the circumstances leading up to suicides from coroners’ inquests, medical records and interviews with friends and family of those who have died by suicide. Our group has already collated data from over 400 coroners’ inquests ruling a suicide or open verdict (likely suicide) across two regions of the UK (Derbyshire and Cambridgeshire), and found strong evidence for previously undiagnosed autism in 12% of suicide cases, significantly higher than the 1% autism prevalence in the general population. To establish the true rate of autism in UK suicides, and understand whether these individuals experience unique risk factors for suicide compared to the general population, we now intend to interview next of kin to confirm: a) autism, co-morbid and other diagnoses; and b) the circumstances leading up to the suicide. Results from this phase will be used to co-design a suicide prevention strategy in partnership with a steering group of autistic people who have attempted suicide.
Who is involved in this study?
The Principal Investigator for this study is Dr Sarah Cassidy (Coventry University)
The Co-Investigator for this study at Newcastle University is Dr Jacqui Rodgers
- Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology
- Doctorate in Clinical Psychology
- Email: email@example.com
- Tel: 0191 208 7562
- Studies: Identifying Targets to Prevent Suicide in Autism; Managing Anxiety in Williams Syndrome; Uncertain Futures; PAT-A
- Recently Completed Studies: CUES; MeASURe; Measuring Anxiety in ASD; WHOQOL-BREF and Autistic Adults
Call: 0191 208 7562
Identifying Targets to Prevent Suicide in Autism sits within the 'Lifecourse studies of neurodevelopmental disorders' research theme.