RESEARCH ARTICLE


AUTISM Spectrum Disorders and Suicidality



Michele Raja1, *, Antonella Azzoni 2, Alessandra Frustaci 3
1 Scuola di Specializzazione in Psichiatria, Università degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza", Via Prisciano 26, 00136 - Rome, Italy
2 Servizio Psichiatrico di Diagnosi e Cura, Ospedale Santo Spirito in Sassia, Via Ugo De Carolis 70, 00136, Rome, Italy
3 Section of Clinical and Molecular Epidemiology-IRCCS San Raffaele Pisana, Rome, Italy


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© Raja et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/) which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at Scuola di Specializzazione in Psichiatria, Università degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza", Via Prisciano 26, 00136 - Rome, Italy; Tel/Fax: +39 065898721; Mob: + 39 3473422158. E-mail: michele.raja@libero.it; michele.raja@fastwebnet.it.


Abstract

The paper describes the suicidal ideation and behavior in a series of 26 adult psychiatric patients affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), the clinical features and the psychiatric comorbidity of patients presenting suicidal behavior, and the history of suicide or suicide attempt in their relatives. Two (7,7%) patients committed suicide. One (3.8%) patient attempted suicide twice, and one (3.8%) patient self-harmed by cutting his face and one finger of his hand with a razor. Eight (30.8%) patients presented suicidal ideation. Two (7.7%) patients had one relative who had attempted suicide, and two (7.7%) patients had one or more relatives who had committed suicide. Most patients with suicidal behavior or ideation presented psychotic symptoms. Although it is not clear whether the high suicidal risk is related with ASDs per se or with psychotic symptoms, a high index of suspicion is warranted in evaluating suicidal risk in patients affected by ASDs, whatever is their age, psychiatric comorbidity, and setting of visit.

Key Words: Autism spectrum disorders, Pervasive developmental disorders, Psychotic signs, Schizophrenia, Suicide.