We have collaborated with fellow charities and campaigners, researchers and bereaved parents to write an open letter to the Government highlighting the increased risk of suicide that autistic people face and calling for urgent action to tackle the issue.

Read our open letter, below.

 Open letter to the Government 

This week has seen the conclusion of yet another inquest into the death of an autistic person who has died by suicide. Aged only 16, Caitlyn Scott-Lee chose to end her life. Rather than being an isolated incident, this is a tragedy that is being repeated far too often for the 1.2 million autistic people in the UK today.

The number of autistic people dying by suicide year after year is a national scandal:

  • 1 in 3 autistic people have experienced suicidal ideation and nearly 1 in 4 have attempted suicide.
  • Autistic people are times more likely to die by suicide than non-autistic people.
  •  Suicide is one of the two main causes of death in autistic people.

Additionally, in over half of the autistic suicides the Autism Centre of Excellence at Cambridge (ACE) has examined to date where coroners wrote a ‘Prevention of Future Death’ report, coroners chose to raise concerns at a national level (1).

These statistics are damning evidence of a government which has failed to provide autistic people with the support they both need and are entitled to.

Too many autistic people are dying by suicide. The Government has access to national data sets and inquest findings but there is no focus on collating and reviewing that information, to learn what is going wrong and identify what action needs to be taken.

Many individuals and organisations have already committed to tackling this problem. But we need the Government to work with us – matching our resolve and commitment with funding and real action. We are calling for:

  1. The Government to publish the number of deaths by suicide of autistic people annually, to show the scale of the issue and to acknowledge the increased risk of suicide autistic people face.
  2. A stronger focus on autistic people within the Government’s Suicide Prevention Strategy, with timely and targeted actions that drive meaningful change.
  3. A guarantee of new and appropriate funding and resources to deliver these actions.
  4. Improved guidance for coroners and medical examiners about the risk of suicide in autistic people and how to take this into account as part of their work.

(1) Data gathered via Richards, GC. 2024. The Preventable Deaths Tracker. https://preventabledeathstracker.net

Signed by:

  • Tom Purser, CEO, Autism Centre of Excellence at Cambridge (ACE)
  • Caroline Stevens, Chief Executive, National Autistic Society
  • Ged Flynn, Chief Executive, PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide
  • Julie Bentley, Chief Executive Officer, Samaritans
  • Laura Bunt, Chief Executive, Young Minds
  • Dr Suzi Godson and Dr Kerstyn Comley, Co-CEOs, Tellmi mental health service for young people
  • Chris Packham, Broadcaster and Campaigner, ACE Ambassador
  • Jools Holland, OBE DL, ACE Ambassador 
  • Professor David Mosse FBA FAcSS, Professor of Social Anthropology, SOAS University of London
  • Professor Jacqui Rodgers, Chair in Psychology and Mental Health, Newcastle University
  • Dr Rachel Moseley, Principal Academic in Psychology, Bournemouth University
  • Dr Sarah Cassidy, Associate Professor, School of Psychology, University of Nottingham
  • Professor Sir Simon Baron-Cohen, Director of the Autism Research Centre, University of Cambridge
  • Mr Jonathan K. W. Scott-Lee
  • Melanie Leahy and Julia Hopper, #matthewscampaign 
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