In The Politics of Autism, I write about the many challenges facing people on the spectrum. Among many other things, they are at high risk for suicide. (In July, the United States transitioned from 10-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to 988 – an easy-to-remember three-digit number for 24/7 crisis care. "
In a book titled Youth Suicide Prevention and Intervention: Best Practices and Policy Implications (eds. John P. Ackerman, Lisa M. Horowitz), Katie Johanning-Gray and colleagues have a chapter titled "Preventing Suicide in Youth with Intellectual and Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Lessons Learned and Policy Recommendations." The abstract:
Preventing suicide in youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other intellectual and neurodevelopmental disorders (INDs) is a critical issue. In the USA, the overall number of individuals living with ASD and other developmental disabilities has been increasing in prevalence; in 2014 the prevalence of children ever diagnosed with any developmental disability was 5.76%, and this increased to 6.99% by 2016 (Zablotsky et al., 2017). Concurrent with the rise in IND prevalence is a troubling rise in the rates of suicide, with suicide now being the second leading cause of death among those between the ages of 10 and 24 in the USA (CDC, 2020). Due to gaps in our existing knowledge including a lack of validated assessment tools and suicide-specific treatments for these youth, researchers and clinicians alike grapple with how to prevent suicide in individuals with INDs. This chapter explores the evidence regarding the prevalence of suicidal ideation and behavior in this population and discusses lessons learned during the implementation of suicide prevention policies within programs serving patients with INDs at a large pediatric hospital setting.