Self-harm and Suicidality Experiences of Middle-Age and Older Adults With vs. Without High Autistic Traits

Gavin R. Stewart*, Anne Corbett, Clive Ballard, Byron Creese, Dag Aarsland, Adam Hampshire, Rebecca A. Charlton, Francesca Happé

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Suicide has been identified as a leading cause of premature death in autistic populations. Elevated autistic traits have also been associated with higher rates of self-harm, suicidal ideation, and suicidal self-harm in the general population, but this has yet to be examined in older age. Using baseline cross-sectional data from the PROTECT study, middle-age and older adults with high autistic traits (n = 276) had significantly higher rates of suicidal ideation, deliberate self-harm, and suicidal self-harm than an age/sex-matched comparison group (n = 10,495). These differences represented a 5- to 6-fold increase in likelihood for self-harming and suicidality. These findings, which remained when controlling for depression symptoms, suggest that middle-age and older adults with high autistic traits may be particularly at risk of self-harm and suicidal behaviours.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Autistic traits
  • Older age
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidality
  • Suicide

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