Well Being

Autism And Depression Study Shows Autistic Children 28 Times More Likely To Be Suicidal

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It's no secret that being different can often cause isolation, and feeling isolated can lead to depression, but a shocking study shows that children with autism spectrum disorders are 28 times more likely to be suicidal.

The study, conducted at Penn State and published in Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, was done by a team of researchers led by Angela Gorman. They looked at the frequency of suicidal thoughts and attempts in over 1,000 kids ages 1 to 16. There were 791 children with autism in the group, 186 neurotypical kids with no psychological problems and 35 neurotypical kids with depression. The team looked at cognitive ability, achievement and demographic factors that may have affected the results of the kids' mental states, as well as information from the children's mothers.

The results showed the 0.5% of neurotypical children with no underlying psychological issues have suicidal thoughts or attempt suicide, while 14% of autistic children feel suicidal or have made suicide attempts. However, the percentage of children with autism was stil much less than that of depressed kids, with 43% experiencing suicidal thoughts or exhibiting behavior of that nature.

Additionally, the study showed that socioeconomic status and ethnicity were significant factors in how likely a child was to have suicidal thoughts or attempts, and that boys were twice as likely to experience thoughts of suicide than girls (though were equally at risk for attempts).

As a result of the experiment's findings, Gorman stated, “All children on the autism spectrum should be screened for ideation and attempts.”

While this study, as with any psychological experiment, is by no means completely conclusive as to the relationship between autism and depression, it speculated that much of these suicidal experiences come from the difficult social effects that autism has on children, adolescents and adults. Being excluded or feeling as though nobody understands you is incredibly painful, and goes hand in hand with depression.

[via io9]

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