Suicide Prevention for Those with Aspergers: Understanding Common Triggers

As dramatic as it may sound to some, the challenges aspies face can lead them to have countless reasons to give up on themselves and their lives. This can often lead to thoughts of suicide and attempts, too many of which are successful. Bullying, grave misunderstandings, absent and abusive relationships of any kind, long-term unemployment, and mental illness are all common reasons why suicide occurs among aspies.

suicide prevention

Aspies often tend to keep quiet about their troubles, typically under the belief that no one will truly understand what they experience; not only in a given environment, but also in their mind. Therefore, even though an aspie appears happy and productive in their life, they can still anonymously harbor difficult thoughts and emotions; sometimes until it is too late.

All aspies need quality relationships with family and friends, as well as comprehensive and individualized support systems throughout life, even with the smallest of tasks. In addition, aspies share universal needs with their neurotypical peers. Another article will address these needs.

Here are some common triggers of suicide in aspies, and how to recognize them:

  1. Mental Illness

Most typically caused by the feelings of isolation, hopelessness, and learned helplessness, mental illness takes many forms. In the case of suicide, anxiety and depression are the big two that cause the aspie to become fixated on negative thought processes. This fixation becomes a chronic mental toxin that can attribute to any aspect of an aspie’s life, particularly the most challenging aspects.

Fortunately, it is simple to recognize when an aspie does not feel mentally strong or healthy. Some of the signs include negative repetitive words and actions, regression, and more self-withdrawal with a greater desire for alone time. The key is to understand the symptoms of various mental illnesses and sort out which ones apply to the aspie. Then, a parent or caregiver can find the specific kind of support systems that work for the aspie. This, along with the quest to find quality people and enjoy healthy and productive activities, prevents suicide and suicidal thoughts alike. 

  1. Bullying

This is one of the most obvious causes. However, what is not so obvious is that it is not the bullying itself that kills, rather it is the aspie’s raw interpretation of it and the inability to achieve a resolve that kills. The combination of such a negative interpretation and isolation jeopardizes the aspie’s wellbeing. Swift changes in mood or behavior indicate possible bullying. More specifically: defensiveness, more frequent mutism, and self-withdrawal come into play and tamper with the aspie’s quality (or already troubling) lifestyle.

The key to bullying immunity is:

  • self-awareness
  • daily love and appreciation on the parents’ part
  • consistent learning
  • ownership and mastery over the type of circumstances that occur
  • a solid belief system to which the aspie can turn in difficult situations.

These five things provide the aspie powerful knowledge, wisdom, and integrity against bad influences and allow them to productively work and to feel content in their presence.

  1. Subtle Tendencies

Often times, the phrase “silent, but deadly” plays a literal and tragic role in the aspie’s life. The most critical issue here is that parents, caregivers, and educators alike usually believe that they are doing all of the right things, but strike a blind eye to subtle and silent issues on the aspie’s end.

In other words, the aspie can have subtle troubling and unhealthy thoughts about the self or about their circumstances. Even toxic habits, such as self-injurious behaviors, can go unnoticed. This makes it more necessary for caring adults to monitor virtually all of an aspie’s daily activities. Close observation, deep conversation, responsible action, and cultivation of healthy habits address the underlying issues an aspie has and keeps them on track with their life. Nothing goes undetected!

  1. Abusive Relationships

There is not much to say here except that if a parent, caregiver, educator, employer, or companion is in any way abusive, the aspie will suffer emotionally and feel hopeless, defenseless, and voiceless with suicide as a palpable outcome. 

  1. Long-Term Unemployment or Dissatisfying Employment

This also speaks for itself. Toxic employment can mean that if a manager, supervisor, co-worker, or work condition is toxic (as in: menial, unproductive, disorganized, passive-aggressive, or excessively rigorous) the aspie will likely meltdown or shut down. Under any of these circumstances, the aspie will likely become the subject of abuse, layoffs, or other typical workplace consequences that they would not necessarily deserve.

In prolonged unemployment, the aspie will likely become disconnected from their knowledge of useful employment concepts such as interview skills and self-marketing skills, among others. Worst of all, the aspie can easily develop chronic depression that takes away from self-esteem and self-confidence. Additionally, the aspie can become fearful that they will not have much of a chance of getting a decent job or walking along a solid career path. Indeed, this tests the aspie’s faith. In order to keep faith, the aspie deserves to believe in bigger things that might help keep a positive outlook; such as the idea that everything happens for a reason.

  1. Misunderstandings

Simple misunderstandings alone would not likely cause suicide. However, if misunderstandings are more critical, broader, and in conjunction with other emotionally detrimental factors, such as those previously mentioned in this article, the danger of suicide becomes a staggering probability. The most surefire solution here is for the aspie to understand and love their “self”; to understand every detail of what happens in a difficult situation, and to accept the reality of it all. Finally, a clear understanding of the aspie’s core values and what is most important to them allows the aspie to keep moving forward with their life, rather than to take it.

Have any other suggestions for suicide prevention? Please share them in the comments below.

by Reese Eskridge

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14 thoughts on “Suicide Prevention for Those with Aspergers: Understanding Common Triggers

  1. Where can we find help for a 14 year old girl in this situation? Looking for good and affordable therapy in the Houston area!!

    • Try to type in using Google, “Houston texas suicide prevention”. I found several results that offer all kinds of support. Take a little time to do the research. If the situation is at crisis point, use the hotline first, then go from there. A conversation with somebody, especially a trained professional, can make a huge difference!

      I hope I am not too late to respond. I am praying for both of you.


  2. I am in my late 40’s with Aspergers. Although I hold a PhD in chemistry, I cannot find employment. The only people in my life are my abusive siblings and my mother. I told my siblings that I have Aspergers, but they don’t care. When I told my brother (who is a physician), he said that he has never heard of Aspergers. The only person who understands me is my mother and she is about to pass away. I have made every effort to get beyond, but to no avail. I am to tired to try to explain it all. It’s a combination of several things: I am not married, will never have a family, no money, no job, no friends, no family, no home, etc… Where can I get help? From the therapist who spread rumors about me? This is the reality. I see no future. I am tired of feeling and being treated as garbage. I see no reason to live this painful life. Am I asking for too much? If you have “real” advice, I am all ears.

    • Hi James,

      I hope you are still here… I just wanted to say that I am in a similar situation and feel your pain. It’s like a curse and no one listens. There are chances for us to have a good life if you don’t get dragged down too quick by co mormid mental health problems and have the right support (which we all know is thin on the ground) but by and large it’s sink or swim. I just want to say that I am sorry and I feel for you. I’m in the same boat. We are voiceless. No one justifies our very real problems – it’s always ‘our personality’ and ‘we should try harder’ so we are left to this excruiciating self blame and hatred that we can’t seem to resolve.

  3. This is a very perceptive and accurate list. There are a couple of additional ones to add.
    Pain and the terror you feel with the awareness that you face the certainty of such pain endlessly slashing at you.
    mental anguish from daily emotional abuse that can be experienced especially in relationships can become extreme, and unless you have sufficient financial / professional / situational optionality to confidently see a way to escape it and sustainably avoid it, suicide can become not just a logical choice but inevitable. You can fight it, ignore it, numb it, or drown it out with alcohol most days. Exercise helps a lot, as does contact with people who you trust and feel comfortable with, e.g. Family, provided you are 100% confident that they won’t ask how you are, treat you differently, and that they’ll just be themselves and be carefree with you. Any discussion of how they’re feeling must be kept absolutely confidential and private, and they must be able to trust that it won’t be shared, made public, or used to justify an intervention or external control over their life. While it might help short term, for the aspie that can feel like an unimaginably painful invasion, public social humiliation, and betrayal. No matter how well intentioned and considerately done. There are so few people in an aspies life that they ever feel comfortable with and can relax and not fear a risk of pain / abuse, that if one of those people then does make public their private feelings, break their confidence / trust, it feels to the aspie like one of the normally very few / extremely rare people / shelters in their world just died. If you lose all your islands, if you don’t feel you can entrust you feelings / private life anymore to literally anyone without the risk of being either criticised, or them shared / made public and weoponised against, that desolation and bleak outlook is terrible. But the fear of the pain you experience when being socially humiliated / attacked is incredibly overwhelming, and if you feel trapped in a life where the pain is guaranteed because a pattern of behaviour from those at work and home that’s not going to change, the screaming inside from the utter agony of having to willingly subject yourself each day to the pain of human interaction, and seeing no escape from it, it could easily drive an aspie to suicide.
    So I’d include the caveat that if you’re trying help / think you need to help, please tread very carefully, don’t breach trust / privacy and make sure if possible that there is an island, ie one person who isn’t going to ask personal questions, ask about emotions, but will just be a source of relaxed company, ideally fun and distraction, with zero risk of personal interrogation and especially zero risk of sharing anything private. E.g. The social stigma of suicide is huge. Imagine how an aspie might fear the social humiliation and emotional flagellation they’d feel if their friends, family, god forbid work colleagues, became of aware they had suicidal thoughts? If it became public. They won’t feel supported, they’ll be terrified. And bear in mind that therapy and the prospect of therapy can be excruciating. It can definitely help. But it can also be something to dread. doing therapy sessions over the phone or even better by email or instant chat triggers way less anxiety, and would help alleviate that.
    Hope that helps

  4. Thank you for writing such a great article. It’s so relevant to me. I am dealing with all these problems plus an insufficient support network. I am also one of the undiagnosed female ‘high functioning’ autistics: I can’t get a diagnosis yet I can barely leave the house due to very poor mental health which I believe is essentially caused by undealt with autism throughout my whole life. AT the moment I feel like I have no future and I can do the most basic of tasks. I really need a second opinions on my mental health and a proper mental and pyshcial health check up along with an assessment from an expert in ‘high-functioning autism, and help after the diagnosis.

    I feel so disempowered and confused by all the stigma and knowing that I will only be misunderstood again. I can’t face the pain from having people invalidate serious problems which completely stop me functioning in my daily life. So few people are able to understand, even when they try.

    I was an intelligent person but due to depression, isolation and unemployment + no socialisng whatsoever my cognitive abilites have got so much worse. I’m just in a pit and I can’t even fight to get hep anymore.

      • It’s so painful being a good natured, considerate person who endlessly has to deal with being ostracised and having my character constantly judged and picked apart just because I can’t cope with various mental health problems and a serious untreated developmental disorder anymore. I’m just so sad about everything that has been lost, everything in me that has gone and I might never be able to get back until I’m taken seriously.

    • Get a hobby or two or three. Take a little art class, look up Church events and show up. Volunteer at a library or reading, tutor English program. Go to Amazon kdp and write a book, then write a children’s book, then a coloring book. Just stay busy!!!

      • No offense, but thats not a good suggestion at all. The problem with that is you fail to understand how debilitating of a situation shes in. It’s just not that easy.

  5. I’m in that situation, I’m sure I have Aspergers and recently I had suicidal thoughts, I’m 25, I don’t have friends, the girl I have a crush on doesn’t pay me attention at all, I suffered bullying when I was studying the middle school and right now I’m dealing with long-term unemployement, more than one year and a half of unsuccessful interviews and no income, my parents are my only support however they have no idea about how I feel. If they weren’t here with me probably I would have already killed myself.
    I wish I weren’t born with aspergers or never have come to this world at all.

  6. Yes, pain, as I see mentioned, by itself is bigger than life, and the hsp overwhelm, along with “looking normal” and falling prey to greedy and abusive people, and even e.r. doctors assuming ur ok even when bleeding to death, equals aspie life. And maybe feeling all the esp/moods of others overwhelm. Odd ability I discovered thru lots of congested hostile dangerous driver-contact…can get other drivers to scoot away by picturing myself as bigger…thinking of myself as a puffer fish got too dangerous-extreme of a reaction

  7. For those looking for therapists for their minor good luck. Know the laws in your state or it may be too late. TN is 16 an my kid refuses to go to therapy and it’s a violation of teen rights to make her go. This is part reason kids get out of control because they have rights but are not mature, so they won’t go to appts or take their meds. Next thing ya know #disaster.