Lack of care for autism patients 'is costing lives'

A lack of clear mental health support for people with Autism spectrum conditions is leaving vulnerable people at risk and costing lives, campaigners have warned.

Some 700,000 people have Autism-spectrum conditions in the UK, and they are at significantly higher risk of depression and other mental health issues.

Suicide is a leading cause of death for people who have been diagnosed with autism or Asperger's.

Adults are nine times more likely to take their own lives, while children are 28 times more likely to think about it, research from Autistica.

Among those who have lost their lives after battling a twin diagnosis of autism and depression is Charlotte Cates.

She took her life at age 25 after trying unsuccessfully to get effective treatment, her mother Karen Cooke said.

Ms Cooke said her daughter's position was made harder as doctors did not take into account how her autism impacted on her mental health.

She was offered group therapy, which she did not feel able to take up.

It's an all-too-common story for those battling with Autism and mental health issues.

Ministers are facing renewed pressure to honour a pledge to invest more in mental health resources and to support autistic patients in particular.

There are calls for better training so doctors can recognise mental health issues which may present differently for autistic people.

Campaigners say there should be better support systems in place within the NHS tp recognise people with the condition as vulnerable and ensure they get the treatment they need.

SNP member Dr Lisa Cameron said: "People are being lost and falling through the gaps."

Tom Bisson, 12, has been left not wanting to go on at some points. Credit: ITV News

Tom Bisson, aged 12, has faced his own battle to get proper support.

Despite suffering severe anxiety in noisy and crowded conditions that often forced him to flee his classroom, he was repeatedly turned down for mental health treatment.

His mother, Helen, said he told her that he did not want to wake up in the morning at his lowest points.

Tom is now getting therapy through a charity and says it has helped him greatly.

Campaigners and families hope that others will not have to go through such an ordeal to get help before it is too late.