A study, the first of its kind, is being carried out by the researchers from Cambridge University, UK. The study suggests that people who are diagnosed with Asperger’s are more prone to having suicidal thoughts in comparison to their normal peers.
The research team has been led by notable researchers Prof. Simon Baron-Cohen and Dr. Sarah Cassidy.
Asperger’s syndrome is seen to be a type of ASD disorder which is characterized by varied difficulties in communicative abilities, repetitive behaviors and complexities in social interactions. Unlike other autistic individuals, Asperger’s individuals are seen to be better at language and cognitive skills.
The lead investigators further observed that Asperger’s adults have a greater susceptibility for depression. However, studies have not been carried out to reach any in-depth conclusion about the ways the disorder could possibly affect an individual to the extent of committing suicide.
Noting these important factors, Dr. Sarah and Prof. Baron assessed a group of 374 individuals who had an Asperger’s diagnosis between the years 2004 and 2013.
The participants were given a list of simple questionnaires to complete and in the process, they were also asked to report their experience of symptoms such as suicidal thoughts, depression, or any attempts of suicide.
After receiving the results, the data was compared with the general population and other individuals with different psychoses.
Depression was seen to be a key factor in raising the risk of suicidal thoughts.
The researchers observed that a glaring 66% of the total participants had reported suicidal ideations in comparison with just 17% of the general population.
Patients with different psychosis behaviors were seen to be at a risk of 59%.
Asperger’s individuals who were seen to have a depressed past were four times likelier to experience suicidal thoughts. They were further seen to be more likely to attempt or plan a suicide than their peers who did not have histories of depression.
Further, the researchers found that 66% of the individuals with suicidal thoughts had actually thought about or planned to commit suicide, and 35% had a mark of attempted suicide on their profiles.
Asperger’s individuals with autistic traits are more likely to commit suicide than those without combined traits.
Dr. Sarah adds that the findings of the group supports earlier studies that indicate Asperger’s adults are at a greater risk of committing or attempting suicide than other groups. The researchers stressed the crucial role ‘depression’ plays.
Prof. Baron comments, “Asperger’s adults, more often than not, suffer from varying amounts of secondary depression that arise due to being socially isolated, exclusion, unemployment and underachievement.”
The professor further adds, “These types of depression can be effectively combed and suicides can be prevented with timely support.”
The study needs to be treated as a wake-up call that highlights the increasing criticality of quality services in the field of prevention of suicides, which are needed to control loss of lives.
The team further comments that more in-depth studies are required in order to determine the role of other factors such as:
- Familial History of Aggressiveness
- Suicide attempts among family adults
The researchers further say the study was carried out with some limitations such as involving adults who had been diagnosed with Asperger’s in adulthood. However, the study did not concentrate on the condition involving young children.