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Highlighting the link between autism and suicide paper

A briefing for frontline staff.

In the new Suicide Prevention Strategy for England 2023-2028, autistic people have been named as a new priority group off the back of data, evidence and engagement with experts. In addition, NCISH’s 2024 Report selected Autism and ADHD as a topic of focus, highlighting that such conditions are becoming a more significant factor in suicide prevention activity, particularly within mental health services aimed at younger people.

The current message is simple - to help reduce the overall number of suicides, tailored and targeted support must be provided to the needs of these identified groups.

The Kent and Medway Suicide Prevention Programme would therefore like to raise understanding of the increased suicidal risk for those either diagnosed with, awaiting assessment for, or showing strong traits of autism. Embracing understanding of autism itself is key to this.

Whilst we recognise that neurodivergence is a broad subject area, we feel this focused look at autism can act as a key starting point to pave the way for further research and understanding. We also believe that many of the findings and tools within this paper can be applied more widely on account of overlaps with other mental health issues, such as isolation, anxiety, trauma, and self-esteem struggles.

Our aim from the highlighting the link between autism and suicide paper (PDF, 4.0 MB) is that frontline professionals can feel better equipped in spotting possible ASC in others, be more aware of how to tailor their communications, and know how and where to facilitate access to diagnosis pathways and support.

The paper is a really quick and easy read, so please take five minutes to focus on this topic that is constantly growing in importance.