Choosing between life, death: Dilemma of autistic teens

A new study shows that children suffering from autism are more likely to contemplate or commit suicide than children who are considered normal. The conclusion was drawn from data accumulated from 1,000 children, including 791 autistic children, 186 non-autistic children without any mental condition and 35 non-autistic children with depression.

Putting it down in black and white

The researchers found out that autistic children were 28 times more likely to contemplate suicide as compared to normal children. Autistic children who commit to the thought of suicide range between thinking about ending their life once in a while and thinking about doing so very often. Nonetheless, depression among children was three times more likely to increase the risk of suicide when compared to autistic children.

The color game

The risks of suicidal actions are higher among autistic children who are African American or Hispanic (around 10-years-old). Angela Gorman, assistant professor of child psychiatry at Penn State College of Medicine who also worked on the research paper, said that this was one of the most important findings of the research, hinting that the risk of suicide could increase with the advent of teenage years.

Boys in danger!

It is common medical knowledge that male children suffering from autism are twice as common to contemplate suicide, though the researchers did not find any significant difference between the rates of suicide between males and females. In any case, we need to think about ways as how to prevent suicide in autistic kids.

Something worth knowing

Researchers discovered that depression and behavioral patterns are correlated to thinking about committing suicide. Discussing the standing of bullied/teased children on this issue, Gorman said, “Out of those kids, almost half of them had suicidal ideation of attempts.” Another survey conducted in this regard found out that 63% of autistic children are bullied in schools, and it is certainly an alarming number.

Obviously, bullying leads towards feelings of depression among autistic teens. Parents of such teens will tell you that 77% from among them have contemplated or even attempted suicide.

The only good news, according to the research, is that autistic kids who did not have behavioral problems were less likely to be depressed or suicidal.

Voices in support

Lynne Soraya, a writer and an autistic person herself, summed it all up in an article as follows:

“Personally, I believe the pain of bullying and isolation is based on commonalities – the feelings and reactions that we share with others. Most human beings long to connect with others – we aren’t so different. But our differences make it more likely that we will experience rejection, ostracism, and bullying… What can we do to prevent this from happening? It comes down to acceptance, diversity, and inclusion. Where a society is inclusive, isolation is minimized. People can feel accepted and supported. Can we, as a society, learn to honor difference, instead of treating it with disdain?”

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