I dedicated yesterday to those autistic people who have lost their lives through suicide. And then today I found out that it’s World Suicide Prevention Day. A coincidence, but one that was bound to happen as, these days, every day is a day in which I think about the huge numbers of autistic people who die in this manner.
Studies have shown that autistic children, especially those from racial minorities or lower socioeconomic status, have up to 28 times the rate of suicidal ideation or attempts compared to non-autistic children, and that over 60% of adult autistics have considered suicide.
In fact, the latest study put the suicide risk amongst autistic adults at 72% and cited “camouflaging” (aka masking) as one of the main risk factors. As always, these studies don’t count in the number of undiagnosed autistics in the population.
Taking these statistics into account, I really hope autistic people are not forgotten about today. You cannot have a “World Suicide Prevention Day” if you don’t include the population most at risk of Suicide. And especially when a lot of the traditional advice on Suicide Prevention does not apply to autistic people eg we may not be able to simply “talk about it”, to phone a helpline or show the more “obvious” signs that people look out for.
The best ways, in my opinion, to try to prevent suicide amongst autistic people is to improve acceptance of our neurotype, to stop bullying us and forcing us to mask, to stop the stigma and ableism we face every day. Until that happens, the statistics are sadly unlikely to change.