Autism and autistic traits in those who died by suicide in England

Cassidy, S. et al. (2022) Autism and autistic traits in those who died by suicide in England. British Journal of Psychiatry, (doi: 10.1192/bjp.2022.21) (PMID:35166201) (Early Online Publication)

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Abstract

Background: Autism and autistic traits are risk factors for suicidal behaviour. Aims: To explore the prevalence of autism (diagnosed and undiagnosed) in those who died by suicide, and identify risk factors for suicide in this group. Method: Stage 1: 372 coroners’ inquest records, covering the period 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2017 from two regions of England, were analysed for evidence that the person who died had diagnosed autism or undiagnosed possible autism (elevated autistic traits), and identified risk markers. Stage 2: 29 follow-up interviews with the next of kin of those who died gathered further evidence of autism and autistic traits using validated autism screening and diagnostic tools. Results: Stage 1: evidence of autism (10.8%) was significantly higher in those who died by suicide than the 1.1% prevalence expected in the UK general alive population (odds ratio (OR) = 11.08, 95% CI 3.92–31.31). Stage 2: 5 (17.2%) of the follow-up sample had evidence of autism identified from the coroners’ records in stage 1. We identified evidence of undiagnosed possible autism in an additional 7 (24.1%) individuals, giving a total of 12 (41.4%); significantly higher than expected in the general alive population (1.1%) (OR = 19.76, 95% CI 2.36–165.84). Characteristics of those who died were largely similar regardless of evidence of autism, with groups experiencing a comparably high number of multiple risk markers before they died. Conclusions: Elevated autistic traits are significantly over-represented in those who die by suicide.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This research was supported by Autistica [grant number: 7247], the Economic and Social Research Council Future Research Leaders grant [grant number: ES/N000501/2], Coventry University, and the University of Nottingham (received by S.C.). S.B.C. received funding from the Wellcome Trust 214322\Z\18\Z. For the purpose of Open Access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission. In addition, S.B.-C. received funding from Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking (JU) under grant agreement No 777394.
Status:Early Online Publication
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:O'Connor, Professor Rory and Robertson, Dr Ashley
Authors: Cassidy, S., Au-Yeung, S., Robertson, A., Cogger-Ward, H., Richards, G., Allison, C., Bradley, L., Kenny, R., O'Connor, R., Mosse, D., Rodgers, J., and Baron-Cohen, S.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Journal Name:British Journal of Psychiatry
Journal Abbr.:BJPsych
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:0007-1250
ISSN (Online):1472-1465
Published Online:15 February 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © The Author(s), 2022
First Published:First published in British Journal of Psychiatry 2022
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

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