Autism and Suicide: The Important Connection

People with autism are at a higher risk of suicide compared to the general population.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
September 18, 2023
min read

Autism is a complex and often misunderstood condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges.

Unfortunately, people with autism are at a higher risk of suicide compared to the general population.

In this article, we'll explore the important connection between autism and suicide, including the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment for depression in individuals with autism.

Why Are People With Autism At A Higher Risk Of Suicide?

Recent studies have shown that people with autism are at a higher risk of suicide than the general population. In fact, research has found that individuals with autism are up to three times more likely to attempt suicide than those without the condition.

One reason for this increased risk is the high prevalence of comorbid mental health conditions in people with autism.

Depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are among the most common comorbidities seen in individuals with ASD. These conditions can exacerbate social and communication difficulties and lead to feelings of hopelessness and isolation.

Another potential contributing factor is the challenges that come with navigating a world that is not always designed for individuals with autism. Sensory overload, difficulty understanding social cues, and trouble adapting to change can all lead to frustration and feelings of alienation.

Every individual on the autism spectrum is unique, and not everyone will experience suicidal thoughts or behaviors. However, it's crucial that we recognize the increased risk faced by this population and work towards providing better support and resources for those who may be struggling.

Causes of Suicide in Individuals with Autism

There are several factors that contribute to the increased risk of suicide in individuals with autism. One of the main factors is the social isolation that many people with autism experience. Social isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, and despair, which can increase the risk of depression and suicide.

Another factor that contributes to the increased risk of suicide in people with autism is the high rates of co-occurring mental health conditions. Depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are common in individuals with autism, and these conditions can increase the risk of suicide.

Living with autism can be challenging, but there are steps you can take to help reduce the risk of depression. Here are some tips on how to avoid depression on the autism spectrum:

  1. Seek support: It's important to have a support system in place when living with autism. This could include family members, friends, or professionals who specialize in working with individuals with autism. Having someone to talk to and share your experiences with can help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.
  2. Practice self-care: Taking care of yourself is essential for maintaining good mental health. This could include engaging in activities you enjoy, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.
  3. Learn coping strategies: Coping strategies can help you manage stress and anxiety that may come with living with autism. Deep breathing exercises, meditation, and mindfulness practices are just a few examples of coping strategies that may be helpful.
  4. Take breaks from sensory overload: Sensory overload can be overwhelming and contribute to feelings of anxiety or depression. Taking breaks from overstimulating environments or activities can help prevent sensory overload.
  5. Set realistic goals: Setting achievable goals can help boost self-esteem and provide a sense of purpose. However, it's important to set realistic goals that take into account any challenges associated with living with autism.

By taking steps to prioritize mental health and wellbeing, individuals on the autism spectrum can reduce their risk of developing depression and lead fulfilling lives.


In conclusion, the connection between autism and suicide is an important issue that needs to be addressed. Individuals with autism are at a higher risk of suicide due to social isolation and co-occurring mental health conditions.

Recognizing the symptoms of depression in individuals with autism and seeking a diagnosis and treatment is crucial in preventing suicide. With the right treatment and support, individuals with autism can lead happy, fulfilling lives.

steven zauderer

CEO of CrossRiverTherapy - a national ABA therapy company based in the USA.

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