Death by Suicide in the Neurodiverse Community is painful to read about and the world can do better

“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.”—   Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Death by Suicide in the Neurodiverse Community is painful to read about and the world can do better.

There I said it, death by suicide. It has taken me all of these years to write about it and I can’t help but start shouting from everywhere I can, about how real it is for many families.

In this morning’s Minneapolis Star Tribune, there was an article on the front page by Paul Walsh. 

The story of how Julia Pernsteiner’s parents are suing a coach and a college over the abuse their daughter endured. Some of that abuse was directly related to her ADHD and dyslexia. Julia died by suicide after enduring months of harassment and bullying by the school, coach, and law enforcement in her life.

CLICK HERE to read the article.

I don’t know Julia’s whole story, so I will refrain from any direct comments about it.

After reading the story in the paper what I am going to say is that Julia’s story is not uncommon. I want it to be uncommon. I hope in my lifetime it becomes a distant nightmare to the neurodiverse community.

For those of us that work in this field with neurodiverse and gifted people, these stories are familiar. We often hear about experiences as heavy as this. The layers of emotions I feel when I hear stories like this are immense. 

Death by suicide in the neurodiverse community.
* these numbers do not include what happened during the pandemic and the fall out from that, which we are still in. There has been a reportedly large increase due to the falling mental health conditions of many individuals.

People with dyslexia have an attempted suicide rate of 46% higher than the average population (the avg. population is 13.42 per 100,000 individuals.)

Undergraduate students with ADHD had more than double the rate of suicidal ideation (44.8% vs. 21.7%), three times the rate of suicide plans (26.6% vs. 9.8%), and more than double the rate of suicide attempts (13.4% vs. 5.5%) and NSSI (23.4% vs. 9.6%) compared to students without ADHD.

Autism is an under-researched area and it was a challenge to find any statistics. What I did find was this.

That 10% of those who died by suicide had evidence of elevated autistic traits. 

These are facts that everyone needs to be aware of if we are going to change those numbers.

The fastest way to change those numbers is through the education of individuals with neurodiversity. The sooner they know themselves the less crap they will take from those who are not educated about their gifts.

If you ever need assistance because family, friends, or yourself are struggling, I highly recommend calling the National Suicide Center for assistance. They are there to help and support. I have called them a couple of times looking for help for family and friends. It was scary to make the call and I thought they might not want to talk with me because I was not the person in crisis, but that was not the truth at all. They took the time to hear me, they gave me numbers to resources, and they had recommendations for first steps. I can’t say enough good things about my experience with them. If you are worried about a loved one in your life and need to talk, I highly recommend you reach out to them. They are not just there for the person fighting to stay alive.

Julia’s family has set up a foundation and is helping others. To learn more CLICK HERE to check out their website. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Crisis Center provides free and confidential emotional support to civilians and ex-servicemen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text 741-741. For crisis assistance in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.

Trevor Lifeline: Call 1-866-488-7386 for travellifeline, a suicide prevention counseling service for the LGBTQ community. Trained counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also talk with anyone over text message or instant message.

Crisis text line: To text privately with a trained crisis counselor, text at home 741741. Counselors are available 24/7.



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