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One in six women with learning disabilities has attempted suicide

Attempted suicide is more common among people who have been diagnosed with learning disabilities, a new study found.

Lifetime prevalence of suicide attempts was much higher for women who had been diagnosed with learning disabilities (16.6%) compared to women who had not (3.3%), the University of Toronto study said. Men with learning disabilities also were more likely to have attempted suicide compared to men without learning disorders (7.7% vs 2.1%), according to the study.

“Learning disabilities such as dyslexia cast a very long shadow,” said lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson.

Adults with learning disabilities who had been sexually abused in childhood or experienced chronic parental domestic violence have twice the odds of having ever attempted suicide, the research showed.

The study examined a nationally representative sample of 21,744 Canadians, of whom 745 reported they had been diagnosed with learning disabilities. Data were drawn from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health.

“The disturbingly high prevalence of suicide attempts among people with learning disabilities underline the importance of health professionals screening patients with learning disabilities for mental illness and suicidal thoughts.” said Wook Yang, study co-author and doctoral student in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.

The results highlight the need for early detection of learning disabilities, Fuller-Thomson said.

“In addition to the benefits of these treatment for improving learning skills and academic success, it is possible that they may also decrease long-term suicide risk,” said Fuller Thomson. “It is unacceptable that many children with learning disabilities languish for years on waiting-lists for needed educational interventions.”

The study was published online in the Journal of Learning Disabilities.

By: David Beasley, Staff Writer

Source: University of Toronto

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