FRIDAY, Jan. 25, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Between 2013 and 2017, the cumulative incidence of suicide was higher in the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) population compared with the non-ASD population, according to a study published online Jan. 21 in Autism Research.

Anne V. Kirby, Ph.D., from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and colleagues examined the incidence of suicide among individuals with ASD during a 20-year period using surveillance data in Utah.

The researchers found that 49 individuals with ASD died by suicide between 1998 and 2017. There was no significant difference in suicide cumulative incidence rates across the ASD and non-ASD populations during 1998 to 2012. The cumulative incidence of suicide among the ASD population between 2013 and 2017 was 0.17 percent, which was significantly higher than among the non-ASD population (0.11 percent). The difference was driven by suicide among women with ASD, with a threefold higher risk for suicide in women with ASD versus those without ASD (relative risk, 3.42). The average age at death and manner of death did not differ between men and women among the ASD population. Use of firearms was significantly less likely as a method of suicide among individuals with ASD (adjusted odds ratio, 0.33).

“While these results show us that those with autism are not immune from suicide risk, we are still working to understand the extent of this risk,” a coauthor said in a statement. “We do not yet have enough information to understand specific characteristics or co-occurring conditions associated with increased risk, so more research in this area is urgently needed to identify warning signs.”

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