Is Camouflaging Autistic Traits Associated with Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviours? Expanding the Interpersonal Psychological Theory of Suicide in an Undergraduate Student Sample

J Autism Dev Disord. 2020 Oct;50(10):3638-3648. doi: 10.1007/s10803-019-04323-3.


The current study explored whether people who camouflage autistic traits are more likely to experience thwarted belongingness and suicidality, as predicted by the Interpersonal Psychological Theory of Suicide (IPTS). 160 undergraduate students (86.9% female, 18-23 years) completed a cross-sectional online survey from 8th February to 30th May 2019 including self-report measures of thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness, autistic traits, depression, anxiety, camouflaging autistic traits, and lifetime suicidality. Results suggest that camouflaging autistic traits is associated with increased risk of experiencing thwarted belongingness and lifetime suicidality. It is important for suicide theories such as the IPTS to include variables relevant to the broader autism phenotype, to increase applicability of models to both autistic and non-autistic people.

Keywords: Autism spectrum conditions; Autistic traits; Broader autism phenotype; Camouflaging; Interpersonal psychological theory of suicide; Masking; Suicidality; Suicide.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Psychological Theory*
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report*
  • Student Health Services
  • Students / psychology*
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Thinking
  • Young Adult