Many people with autism entertain thoughts of suicide and yet show few obvious signs of their distress. Some scientists are identifying risks — and solutions — unique to autistic individuals.
Studies over the past few years hint that suicidal ideation is more common in people with autism than in the general population, but the estimates vary so widely that some experts say they are meaningless. Still, there is some evidence that autistic people are especially vulnerable to suicide: One 2015 study that mined Sweden’s large National Patient Registry found that they are 10 times as likely to die by suicide as are those in the general population. (Women with autism are particularly at risk, even though men are more so in the general population.)
Even when signs of suicidality are apparent, clinicians may dismiss them.