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The Phenomenology and Clinical Correlates of Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors in Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Abstract

This study investigated the phenomenology and clinical correlates of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in youth with ASD (N = 102; range 7–16 years). The presence of suicidal thoughts and behavior was assessed through the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule-Child and Parent Versions. Children and parents completed measures of anxiety severity, functional impairment, and behavioral and emotional problems. Approximately 11 % of youth displayed suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Children with autism were more likely to have suicidal thoughts and behaviors whereas children with Asperger’s disorder were less likely. Suicidal thoughts and behaviors were associated with the presence of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Overall, results suggest that suicidal thoughts and behaviors are common in youth with ASD, and may be related to depression and trauma.

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Acknowledgments

The contributions of Lindsay Brauer, Robert Selles, Dr. Jeffrey Wood, and Danielle Ung are acknowledged. This paper was supported by grants to the first author from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (5R34HD065274-02), All Children’s Hospital Research Foundation and the University of South Florida Office of Research and Innovation Established Researcher Grant Program.

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Storch, E.A., Sulkowski, M.L., Nadeau, J. et al. The Phenomenology and Clinical Correlates of Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors in Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders. J Autism Dev Disord 43, 2450–2459 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-013-1795-x

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Keywords

  • Suicide
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Pervasive developmental disorder
  • Asperger’s disorder
  • Depression