CW: ableism, chronic su/c/dal/ty, social exclusion
Autistic people are often told that they need to be “fixed” or “cured” of their autism. This ableist mindset stems from the belief that being neurotypical (having typical brain functioning) is the only acceptable way of being. For people with non-visible disabilities like autism, this can manifest in being judged for having sensory issues, difficulties with communication or social interaction, or other differences that may not be immediately apparent to others. However, what most people don’t realize is that this ableist mindset can actually lead to chronic suicidality among autistic people.
According to a study published in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry (CW: the title uses an ableist term for autism), up to 66% of autistic people have experienced suicidal ideation, and up to 35% have attempted suicide. These are alarming statistics that highlight the urgent need for better support and resources for autistic people, as well as the need for systemic change to address the root causes of chronic suicidality.
One major contributing factor to chronic suicidality among autistic people is the experience of ableism and social isolation. It’s a very common experience for autistic people to find ourselves excluded from social interactions and ostracized by our peers, leading to feelings of loneliness and isolation. This can be especially true for those of us who have co-occurring mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, which can be exacerbated by ableism and social exclusion.
Another significant contributor to chronic suicidality among autistic people is the pressure to conform to allistic societal norms and mask our autism. Many of us feel the need to hide our differences and conform to allistic expectations, leading to a significant amount of stress and anxiety. This pressure to mask can lead to autistic burnout, a state of physical and mental exhaustion that can lead to feelings of hopelessness and suicidal ideation.
But these individual experiences are just the tip of the iceberg. The truth is that chronic suicidality among autistic people is also a systemic issue that is rooted in ableism and other forms of oppression. To truly understand the impact of ableism and…