The Risk Factors and Preventative methods of Self-Harm and Suicidality for Autistic People
Keywords:Autism, Suicide prevention, Mental health, Special education, Autism camouflaging, Autistic burnout, Autism awareness, Addressing ableism
Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) and suicide are not new concepts. However, prevention and intervention strategies are evolving. This paper explores NSSI/Self-Harm and suicidality in the context of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), starting with neurotypical children and adolescents aged 10-24 to compare differences. Suicide is a leading cause of death in adolescents and young adults and is disturbingly high in the autistic community. While evidence about causes and risk factors for NSSI, self-harm, and suicidal behavior in autistic people exist, a comprehensive review of peer-reviewed publications revealed significant gaps in research about severe mental health concern prevention. With high chances of developing mental health disorders, autistic people have higher rates of experiencing self-injury of various types throughout their lives and increased cases of suicide than neurotypical people. Four major risk factors for autistic people: Demographics/SES, ableism and otherness, autism camouflaging, and autistic burnout. Three recommendations for educators are provided on how to support autistic mental health. The implicit focus on causation and behavior identification in research needs to be addressed instead of comprehensive preventative strategy creation. If educators and mental health practitioners know mental health literacy methods and risk factors for suicide and self-harm, specifically for neurotypical students, neurodivergent students deserve equitable support and attention.
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