In this article, we’ll talk about how children with an autism diagnosis are more likely to have suicidal thoughts and what you can do to as a parent to help.An estimated 700,000 people worldwide take their own lives every year. It’s the second largest killer of American kids and young adults (10-34) after heart disease.
Suicidal ideation is a daily struggle for millions of people worldwide and is especially prevalent among those with neurodevelopmental disorders. Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are more likely to contemplate suicide than their parents and authorities understand, according to a recent study.
Reports of suicide ideation were found to be significantly higher among children with ASD compared to children without the condition in this study, which was published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. Certain indicators of autism may raise the likelihood of suicidal thinking in children.
Exactly what is the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
Autism spectrum disorder is a condition that affects development. Disorder symptoms may include a breakdown in verbal, social, and behavioral skills. One in every 54 children is reported to have autism, and men are four times more likely to have the diagnosis than women.
Historically, experts say, children with autism have not been tested for suicide risk. Researchers were curious if autistic people might be screened for suicidal ideation and if autistic children could express whether or not they were contemplating suicide.
Triage screenings were performed by nurses at Krieger’s outpatient clinics for patients aged 8 to 18. These inquiries were taken from the ASQ suicide screening questionnaire. The questions ask respondents specifically about any suicidal ideation or the feeling that their death would be preferable to the lives of others.
Over six months starting in 2017, researchers collected 3854 screened replies from patients. Research from the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, which specializes in identifying and caring for autistic children, was included. Despite common belief to the contrary, many children with autism were able to verbalize their suicidal feelings to researchers.
Rates of Autism-Related Youth Suicide
The suicide rate among 10–24-year-olds in the US has risen considerably in the past 15–20 years. The rate of death increased from 6.8 in 2007 to 10.7 in 2018, a significant increase. The percentage has risen by about 60%.
People with autism have three times the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior compared to the general population, according to research published in Denmark this year. Suicide attempts were more common among people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) compared to people without ASD, according to a study conducted in Taiwan in 2017.
Both studies’ findings corroborate the idea that youngsters on the autism spectrum struggle with suicidal ideation. The data also emphasizes the significance of mental health assistance for struggling children.
Variables That Play a Role
Kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may feel alone because of their communication difficulties. They could have a hard time overcoming feelings of alienation. This social isolation can lead to suicide ideation. Children who have been given an autism diagnosis may display unusual behavior and speech patterns, making them easy targets for bullying.
Knowing your child’s regular behavior can help you spot red signals. Warning signs include a change in behavior, a lack of interest in things the kid once enjoyed, the donation of goods, the expression of a desire to die, and other symptoms comparable to those seen in children without autism. Get assistance if you notice any of these warning signals.
Tools for Preventing Death by Suicide
Your kid’s physician or a mental health practitioner who specializes in ASD can provide further resources for helping your child understand and work through their emotions. Experts offer some helpful advice, as well:
- Inquire about the child’s day and what they’re thinking by asking them questions. In the opinion of experts, asking questions does not enhance the suicide risk. Most kids like having someone to chat with about how they’re feeling.
- Reassure your young child that it’s normal to experience sadness and anger. Then say so, too.
- Provide them with means of managing their emotions. Is there an older person they can confide in? Can you solve problems by putting pen to paper? Perhaps they would find relief in watching a comedic video.
- Lock away guns and keep medicines out of reach; these are just two examples of basic sense precautions you should take.
Young people on the autism spectrum have unique ways of conveying their thoughts and feelings. That’s why children with autism diagnosis are likely to have suicidal thoughts. Thoughts of sadness, anger, or suicide might be there even if a child is not expressing them verbally. Keep an eye out for red flags, probe probing questions about your child’s well-being, and do what you can to get them the treatment they need.
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