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Link Between Low IQ Scores And Attempted Suicide


A new research funded by research funded by the Wellcome Trust is showing a link between low IQ scores in early adulthood are associated with an increased risk of attempted suicide in men.

This study appears to be the largest of its kind. A team of researchers studied the medical records of over one million men in Sweden that dated back over a period of twenty four years. They then compared rates of hospital admission for attempted suicide against IQ scores. The research is published this week in the British Medical Journal.

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Dr David Batty, a Wellcome Trust Fellow at the Medical Research Council Social and Public Heath Sciences Unit, who led the study, says: "We have found a clear link between IQ and attempted suicide in this group of men. In common with some previous, smaller studies, we have shown that men with lower scores have a markedly greater risk of attempted suicide than men of higher IQ."

The researchers have looked at a variety of possible explanations. First, low IQ tends to correlate with lower socioeconomic status and income. They suggest that those with lower IQ may experience more social and financial disadvantage which can lead to an increase in suicidal thoughts and behaviors. In addition, researchers think that lower IQ is associated with poor health behaviors such as binge drinking, which also increases suicide risk.

The team of researchers also believes that IQ influence an individual's ability to deal with stressful circumstances or traumatic events. Previous research has suggested that individuals with lower IQ scores may not have good problem-solving abilities and unable to work on solutions.

"Suicide, either attempted or actual, is a serious problem, particularly amongst young adults, but we have a relatively poor understanding of what leads a person to take such drastic action," says Dr Elise Whitley. "If we can better understand the association between IQ and suicide, this will provide valuable insight into why some people make such a tragic decision. Such knowledge would help inform public health strategies and provide help and support for vulnerable groups."