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Autism Spectrum Disorder Tied to Higher Risk for Self-Harm

Meta-analysis shows tripled risk for self-injurious behavior and suicidality

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WEDNEDAY, Oct. 27, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is associated with a substantial increase in the odds of self-injurious behavior and suicidality in children and adults, according to a review published online Oct. 19 in JAMA Network Open.

Ashley Blanchard, M.D., from Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to identify epidemiologic studies assessing the risk for self-injurious behavior and suicidality among children and adults with ASD.

Based on 31 studies (16 in children, 13 in adults, and two in both), the researchers found in a pooled analysis of 17 studies that there was an increased risk for self-injurious behavior with ASD (pooled odds ratio, 3.18; range, 1.21 to 18.76). For the association between ASD and suicidality, odds ratios ranged from 0.86 to 11.10 (pooled odds ratio, 3.32). Results were similar between clinical and nonclinical settings and between children and adults.

"Further research is needed to examine the role of primary care screenings, preventive mental health services, and lethal means counseling in reducing self-harm among people with ASD," the authors write.

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