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Rates of Suicide, Suicide Attempts Up for Individuals With Autism

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 20, 2021 -- The rates of suicide attempts and suicide are increased among individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a study published online Jan. 12 in JAMA Network Open.

Kairi Kõlves, Ph.D., from Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues conducted a cohort study using nationwide register data from Jan. 1, 1995, to Dec. 31, 2016, for 6,559,266 individuals in Denmark aged 10 years or older.

The researchers found that 35,020 individuals received a diagnosis of ASD. Overall, there were 64,109 incidents of suicide attempts (0.9 percent among individuals with ASD) and 14,197 suicides (0.4 percent among individuals with ASD). The rates of suicide attempt and suicide were more than threefold higher for persons with ASD compared with those without ASD (adjusted incidence rate ratios [aIRRs], 3.19 and 3.75, respectively). Those with ASD had higher rates of suicide attempts across all age groups. Compared with those without any psychiatric disorder, individuals with a diagnosis of ASD with other comorbid disorders had an aIRR of 9.27 for suicide attempts. Overall, 92.3 and 90.6 percent of the individuals with ASD who attempted suicide and who died by suicide, respectively, had at least one other comorbid condition.

"Psychiatric comorbidity was found to be a major risk factor, with more than 90 percent of those with ASD who attempted or died by suicide having another comorbid condition," the authors write.

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