Aspergers and the Swedish Suicide Study

This past week, the headlines were full of the news of a new study out of Sweden that showed that people on the autism spectrum die sooner than average. The study also found that suicide is the leading cause of death for adults on the spectrum. There are some holes in that thesis, and you ought to know a little more about Sweden and its culture, too. It’s not you, it’s them.

UPI
STOCKHOLM, Sweden, March 21

People with autism spectrum disorder live about 18 fewer years than average, and the leading cause of early death among adults on the spectrum is suicide, according to a recent study in Sweden.

About those Swedes:
The Atlantic, June 5, 2015

Today, suicide is the most common cause of death for Swedish men and women aged 15 to 24. In the 15-to-44 age group, suicide is the most common cause of death among men and the second-most common cause of death among women.

Sweden was an active participant in the eugenics movement that arose in the early 1900s. In fact, until 1976, the country had a policy of sterilizing certain classes of individuals.

The Economist August 28, 1997

Between 1935 and 1976, the newspaper says, no fewer than 60,000 young Swedish women deemed mentally defective or otherwise handicapped to a degree “which makes them incapable of looking after their children” were sterilised. More embarrassingly, this happened under laws passed in 1934 by a vigorous new Social Democratic government—a hitherto esteemed forebear of Sweden’s present rulers. The laws lapsed only in 1976.

Begin to see what a lovely place Sweden is, in general, for people who are “different? Suicide is socially acceptable, and seen as a valid solution to the problems of neural-typicals. What does that say to those of us on the spectrum? What sort of care do our brothers and sisters receive in Sweden, and is there a societal pressure to suicide?

I just think that it is pretty damn convenient for neural-typicals that those troublesome, non-conforming Aspergers and ASD folks are taking their own lives.