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Suicide by young Australians, 2006–2015: a cross‐sectional analysis of national coronial data

Darren Hedley, Mark A Stokes and Julian N Trollor
Med J Aust 2022; 216 (1): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.51359
Published online: 17 January 2022

To the Editor: In their study examining the suicide deaths of 3027 young Australians during 2006–2015, Hill and colleagues1 reported that nearly 60% of cases had experienced mental health problems during their lifetime, and around 75% of deaths were of young males. We would like to draw attention to another important statistic within these data. Specifically, 4.6% of males who died by suicide in Australia had a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This is alarming, considering that the prevalence of males with ASD in Australia is estimated to be only 1.3%.2 For males in the study age range (ie, 10–24 years), the prevalence ranges from 1.2% to 3.3%, with the highest prevalence in the 10–14 year bracket. Nonetheless, the apparent high incidence of suicide by males with ASD is consistent with recent research indicating a three‐ to nine‐fold increased risk of suicide among people with ASD compared with the general population.3,4 The increased suicide risk in ASD may be explained by the high incidence of comorbid psychiatric disorders among this population.5 Indeed, in one national cohort study from Denmark, over 90% of people with ASD who attempted or died by suicide had another comorbid mental health condition.3

  • Darren Hedley1
  • Mark A Stokes2
  • Julian N Trollor3

  • 1 Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre, La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2 Deakin University, Melbourne, VIC
  • 3 UNSW Sydney, Sydney, NSW


Correspondence: d.hedley@latrobe.edu.au

Acknowledgements: 

Darren Hedley is supported by a Suicide Prevention Australia National Suicide Prevention Research Fellowship. The funding source did not have any role in the planning, writing, or decision to publish this work.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

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