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Rates of comorbid symptomology in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are significantly higher than in people with many other neurodevelopmental or psychiatric diagnoses. Depression (lifetime rate may be over 50%) is one of the most prevalent psychiatric comorbidities in ASD and is a significant risk factor for suicidal ideation (thoughts about taking one’s life), plans, attempts and suicide. Suicidal behavior in ASD is understudied; however, the presence of suicidal behavior may be much higher than in the general population. Stakeholders must develop priorities for suicide research in ASD. An important question is whether risk factors and underlying mechanisms for suicidal behavior in ASD are similar to those in the non-autistic or general population. To begin to address this gap, we examined loneliness and social support as potential risk and protective factors, respectively, for depression and thoughts of self-harm in two studies involving adults with ASD.


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Copyright held by the authors. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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Hedley, D., & Dissanayake, C. (2017). Social relationships, loneliness & wellbeing in autism: Brief overview of research findings [Electronic version]. Melbourne, Australia: La Trobe University, School of Psychology and Public Health, Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre.