Autism spectrum disorders and suicidal behaviour

About 1% in the general population have autism-related conditions. The onset is often in childhood and may have an impact on the child’s upbringing and socialization. Although autism-related conditions have been linked to suicidal behavior, little is known regarding  which characteristics are associated with suicidal behavior in this subgroup.

In this research project, DRISP, in collaboration with international researchers, sought to identify social and disease-related predictors of suicidal behavior among people with autism.

Danish registry data covering the entire Danish population (6,559,266 persons) in the period 1995-2016 were included in the analyses. The results showed that people with autism-related disorders had a more than 3-fold higher rate of both suicide attempts and suicide than people without these disorders. The excess risk of suicidal behavior among people with autism could be observed across all age groups.

People with autism who also had psychiatric disorders were found to have a significantly increased risk and this group accounted for 90% of those who had suicide attempts or died by suicide. The results suggest that people with autism who also have psychiatric disorders should be a target group for suicide preventive efforts.

The project received funding from the Helse Foundation.

You can read the study here:


  • Kairi Kõlves, Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia
  • Stephen James Wood, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia