Question: Can individuals with Asperger syndrome become so depressed that they become at risk for suicide, and what can be done about it?
Answer: People with Asperger disorder often have what we describe as comorbid diagnoses, which is to say that they can often have depression or anxiety complicating their diagnosis of Asperger disorder. Studies have shown that there can be up to a 50 percent demonstration of what we call suicidal ideation with adults with Asperger disorder, which means talking about killing oneself. But there has not been documented increase in actual suicide.
When you look at the cases of people who have attempted suicide and talk about committing suicide, usually the main issue is self-esteem and social isolation. So to address this issue, it's important to make sure that you address those two components of Asperger disorder which is social isolation and self-esteem.
The family should be as supportive as possible for their child with this disorder, try to set up as many social supports and connections for an adult with this disorder, including connections at college and places of employment, and again seek professional help with an experienced psychologist or psychiatrist to try to provide this individual with help early.
If you are in crisis, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).