Healthy Living

Autism: Getting a Handle on Suicide

Providers should be straightforward

Gotham notes that treatment providers should seriously consider whether a patient may be autistic. Rather than being coy or relying on implied meaning, she suggests asking individuals outright whether they’ve entertained suicidal thoughts or not. Instead of relying on the individual to hint at these thoughts or provide some emotional entry point, treatment providers should approach the possibility of suicidal thoughts in autistic individuals seriously and calmly. It’s possible that an individual hasn’t had these thoughts at all, and in that case a treatment provider can feel more assured of a patient’s safety, but, as in the case of the young man, it’s also entirely possible that an individual has had extensive thoughts about suicide but hasn’t had the opportunity to discuss them. A straightforward question may be the best way to start a conversation.