Individuals with learning disabilities were significantly more likely to attempt suicide than those without, according to recent findings.
“Learning disabilities such as dyslexia cast a very long shadow. Adults with learning disabilities still had 46% higher odds of having attempted suicide than their peers without learning problems, even when we took into account a wide range of other risk factors including lifetime history of depression and substance abuse, ADHD, early adversities, age, race, sex, income and education,” Esme Fuller-Thomson, PhD, of University of Toronto, said in a press release.
To determine suicide attempt rates in individuals with specific learning disabilities, researchers analyzed data from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey (n = 21,744).
Lifetime prevalence of suicide attempts was significantly higher among individuals with specific learning disorders, compared with those without (11.1% vs. 2.7%; P < .001).
Adults with specific learning disorders were 46% more likely to ever attempt suicide, even after adjusting for childhood adversities, mental illness and addiction history, and sociodemographics (OR = 1.46; 95% CI, 1.05-2.04).
Adverse childhood events were the strongest moderator of the association between specific learning disabilities and suicide attempts.
History of witnessing parental domestic violence or ever having major depressive disorder was associated with significantly greater risk for suicide attempts among participants with specific learning disabilities.
“Our findings of the strong link between learning disabilities and suicide attempts provide an additional reason to prioritize the early detection and timely provision of effective educational interventions for children with dyslexia and other learning problems,” Fuller-Thomson said in the release. “In addition to the benefits of these treatments for improving learning skills and academic success, it is possible that they may also decrease long-term suicide risk. It is unacceptable that many children with learning disabilities languish for years on waiting-lists for needed educational interventions.” – by Amanda Oldt
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.