Leo Sher, M.D.
A research report, “Suicide attempt predicted by academic performance and childhood IQ: a cohort study of 26 000 children” has been published in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica online ahead of print (1). The authors examined the association between school performance and suicidal behavior up to middle age. The authors also investigated whether the association between academic performance and suicide attempt is related to a general cognitive ability, as measured with an IQ-type test.
Researchers followed 26,315 girls and boys in Sweden up to maximum 46 years of age. Associations between academic performance in school, measured by grade point average at age 16, IQ measured in school at age 13 and suicide attempt were investigated using Cox regressions and mediation analyses.
The authors found that academic performance was a predictor of suicide attempt up to middle age. Inferior academic performance in school, at age 16, was a strong predictor of suicide attempt past young adulthood. Low childhood IQ was also a predictor of suicide attempt. The association between IQ and suicide attempt was mediated by grade point average, i.e., by academic performance. The results of this study are consistent with results of several previous studies suggesting that low cognitive abilities in youth are associated with future suicidal behavior (2-4).
1. Sörberg Wallin A, Zeebari Z, Lager A, Gunnell D, Allebeck P, Falkstedt D. Suicide attempt predicted by academic performance and childhood IQ: a cohort study of 26 000 children. Acta Psychiatr Scand 2017 Nov 8. doi: 10.1111/acps.12817.
2. Bjorkenstam C, Weitoft GR, Hjern A, Nordstrom P, Hallqvist J, Ljung R. School grades, parental education and suicide–a national register-based cohort study. J Epidemiol Community Health 2011;65:993–998.
3. Kosidou K, Dalman C, Fredlund P, Lee BK, Galanti R, Isacsson G, Magnusson C. School performance and the risk of suicide attempts in young adults: a longitudinal population-based study. Psychol Med 2014;44:1235–1243.
4. Sörberg A, Allebeck P, Melin B, Gunnell D, Hemmingsson T. Cognitive ability in early adulthood is associated with later suicide and suicide attempt: the role of risk factors over the life course. Psychol Med 2013;43:49–60.