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This debate pack contains background information, parliamentary material, press articles, and further reading suggestions which Members may find useful in preparation for this debate. 

Heidi Allen MP proposed this debate to the Backbench Business Committee on Tuesday 24 October 2017.  In doing so, she said the following:

About two weeks ago, a charity called Autistica, which focuses completely on understanding autism and how it affects people, came to me with a piece of research that it is doing, which focuses, just by chance, on Cambridgeshire and Peterborough – my local authority area – as well as Derbyshire.  The researchers are looking at links that might exist between mental health issues and suicide and autism.  Even though they have only just started this piece of work and the findings are still evolving, they have already found that there is at least a link between autism and suicide in 10% of the cases.  As they were explaining that to me, it hit me between the eyes, and I found myself thinking, “I wonder – I wonder if that poor family have any idea.”…  It seems to me that we need to look in more detail at whether there is a real link between the two…  Given that only 1% of the population is autistic, those sorts of findings are huge.  The NHS forward view already includes a request for NHS England to define and identify mental health care pathways for people with autism, but there are no data on that yet and there are no proposals being brought forward.  We are waiting to hear – it will be some time in 2018.  It seems to me that we could be really powerful in influencing what they put in there…  To me it feels that the link is so powerful that I don’t think we can ignore it, and the link has never been debated in the House.

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