Suicidality in Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD): A systematic review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Brain and Behavioural Sciences, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.


Background: - There is suggestion that people with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD), may be at increased risk of suicide, however the research surrounding this topic has been minimal. There are conflicting reports in existing studies.
Aim: - To bring together research investigating the prevalence, risk factors and co-morbid factors of suicidality in ASD.
Method: - A Systematic search following PRISMA guidelines of Medline, Psych Info, Embase and Web of Science. After exclusion criteria were applied, 70 full text articles were screened. The final review contained 12 papers with a total sample size of 2651.
Results: Prevalence of suicide attempts varied between 7% and 47%, suicidal ideation reported in up to 72%. Being male, a history of self harm and depression were cited as significant risk factors. Papers were cross sectional and contained a number of limitations. Only one paper used ‘gold standard’ for diagnosis of ASD, and one a standardised measure of suicidal behaviour.
Conclusion: - Suicidal attempts and ideation are increased in ASD, however to what extent and what risk factors are identified within this group remain under-investigated. There is a lack of research surrounding protective factors. The correlation between ASD and suicidality needs further examination with longitudinal research.


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Early online date3 May 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 May 2017


  • Suicidal Behaviour, Suicide, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Asperger’s Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorders-others not specified