Gus Hardy, an autistic author, shared his story about another autistic friend from high school:
I talked a year ago with an old friend from high school who shares my disorder but not my belief. My friend had attempted suicide, reasoning that “I’m not contributing anything to the world, and since we’re all screwing up the environment, I might as well not use up any more of the earth’s resources." This friend could only see the world in terms of resources and expendability—with no mention of inherent worth or dignity. I still pray for her.
Gus’s autistic friend’s suicide attempt unfortunately highlights a trend in the autistic community: suicidal thoughts and attempts.
Aspergian author M. Kelter wrote about a study talking about how two in every three Asperigan young and older adults struggle with suicidal thoughts.
M. Kelter writes,
One recent study found that two thirds of spectrum-diagnosed adults surveyed had contemplated suicide; 35 percent had actually made plans or an attempt.
This is why we need to be talking about suicide prevention, particularly for autistics and Aspergians.
You can give and receive hope by learning about suicide prevention.
Here are 8 things you and I should know about suicide prevention.
1. What Is Suicide Prevention?
According to Wikipedia,
Suicide prevention is an umbrella term for the collective efforts of local citizen organizations, health professionals and related professionals to reduce the incidence of suicide.
A recent survey, as quoted on both www.cam.ac.uk and also www.thelancet.com, stated that out of 374 adults surveyed (256 men and 118 women), 243 of these people reported suicidal thoughts. That is to say, the level of this type of thinking is 49 percent higher than in the general population of England. It is also seven percent higher than in a similar survey conducted using patients with psychosis-related issues.
www.cam.ac.uk — 374 adults surveyed (256 men and 118 women); Aspies 66% more likely to have suicidal thoughts, compared with 17% in the general population and 59% in patients with psychosis
www.thelancet.com — 243 out of 374 surveyed reported such dire thoughts. Nine times higher than in the general population of England. “Individuals who planned or attempted suicide had a significantly higher level of self-reported autistic traits than those who did not"; Asperger’s Syndrome generally not diagnosed until age 11 upwards.
Because autistics and Aspergians seem to be at higher risk for suicidal thinking and/or actions, suicide prevention is important for them.
Suicidal Ideation: thinking, talking, or writing about suicide, planning for suicide.
Anxiety, agitation and unable to sleep or sleeping all the time.
Social Withdrawal from friends, family, or society.
Anger, rage or seeking revenge.
Recklessness or impulsiveness.
6. Know The Risk Factors for Suicide
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention provides the risk factors listed below.
As we understand these risk factors, we can be more alert to ourselves and others who may need help.
“Risk factors are characteristics or conditions that increase the chance that a person may try to take their life” —afsp.org
Mental health conditions
Bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder
Borderline or antisocial personality disorder
Psychotic disorders, or psychotic symptoms in the context of any disorder
Substance abuse disorders
Serious or chronic health condition and/or pain
Stressful life events which may include a death, divorce, or job loss
Prolonged stress factors which may include harassment, bullying, relationship problems, and unemployment
Access to lethal means including firearms and drugs
Exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide
Historical and Genetic Factors
Previous suicide attempts
Family history of suicide attempts
7. Know The Interventions
Wikipedia provides a list of typical interventions to prevent suicide.
Suicide prevention strategies focus on reducing the risk factors and intervening strategically to reduce the level of risk. Risk and protective factors, unique to the individual can be assessed by a qualified mental health professional.
Some of the specific strategies used to address are:
Structured counseling and psychotherapy.
Hospitalization for those with low adherence to collaboration for help and those who require monitoring & secondary symptom treatment.
Supportive therapy like substance abuse treatment, Psychotropic medication, Family psychoeducation and Access to emergency phone call care with emergency rooms, suicide prevention hotlines…etc.
Restricting access to lethality of suicide means through policies and laws.
Creating & using crisis cards, An uncluttered card formatted readably that describes list of activities one should follow in crisis still the positive behavior responses settles in the personality.
Person-centered life skills training. e,g., Problem solving.
Registering with Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Suicide Bereavement Support Group, Religious group with flow rituals…etc.
Therapeutic recreational therapy that improves mood.
Motivating self-care activities like physical exercise’s and meditative relaxation.
1. Call this number : 1 (800) 273-8255. I didn’t have it, and I wish I had. It’s the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (website and live chat here). It’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in both English and Spanish.
2. I realized it would destroy other people’s lives. Killing yourself can spiritually kill other people.
3. There’s no guarantee that killing yourself improves things!
Would you like to join a supportive group of autistics and Aspergians? Join the Thrive with Aspergers/Autism closed, secret Facebook group. Go to my contact page, fill out your information, and ask to join the group!
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