Can Low IQ Increase Risk of Suicide?

In the study of factors that influence suicidal ideation, age, genetic risks, psychological problems, and even socioeconomic status have been researched at length. But the relationship between cognitive ability and suicide has been less investigated. To illuminate this association and better understand the risk it poses for suicidal behavior, Dr. A. Sorberg of the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and the Department of Public Health Sciences at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden recently analyzed data that was part of longitudinal study. Sorberg theorized that individuals with low cognitive ability would have a higher risk for death by suicide or suicide attempts than those with higher IQs and stronger cognitive abilities.

Sorberg examined data from over 49,000 men, which included their IQs in early adulthood. This information was obtained 36 years prior to the beginning of this study, and Sorberg used the interim data from hospital records to determine suicide attempts and suicides during that time period. Sorberg also assessed the socioeconomic status of the men during their childhoods and adult lives, as well as their marital and parental statuses. The results revealed that the men with lower IQs had higher rates of suicide attempts and completions than those with higher IQs. Sorberg also discovered that marital status acted as a protective factor, reducing the risk of suicide, especially for men with children. Sorberg theorized that perhaps men with higher IQs are more likely to get married than those with limited cognitive abilities. This relationship between IQ and marriage was not examined fully in this study, but warrants further investigation.

Sorberg further noticed that psychological problems, family adversity, and socioeconomic disadvantages in childhood did significantly increase the risk of suicide when not combined with IQ. However, socioeconomic disadvantage in adulthood did. Sorberg believes that men with low IQs may not have the education or intellect needed to develop adaptive coping strategies when faced with stress. Future work should explore ways to provide these at-risk men with effective and nonharmful methods of coping. In conclusion, Sorberg added, “This present study confirms previous findings of associations between cognitive ability and subsequent suicide and suicide attempt.”

Sörberg, A., et al. (2013). Cognitive ability in early adulthood is associated with later suicide and suicide attempt: The role of risk factors over the life course. Psychological Medicine 43.1 (2013): 49-60. ProQuest. Web. 11 Mar. 2013.

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  • Caroline


    March 22nd, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    While I think that researching this topic does have some validity I think that there are numerous other risk factors that could more readily influence on’e tendency toward suicide than does IQ. You have to look at other things like the kind of childhood that someone had, their coping skills, along with a whole host of other factors that could play into a decision like this. I don’t think that with suicide it is ever a this or that kind of thing, and that in most cases it is going to be a whole host of issues combined together that would cause someone to resort to suicide. It is one more think to keep in mind though, as we all try to keep our eyes and ears open to prevent this from happening to any family.

  • Reagan


    March 23rd, 2013 at 6:38 AM

    As if those who have lower IQs don’t have enough to contend with, along comes this.

  • fran w

    fran w

    March 25th, 2013 at 4:03 AM

    I am happy that you at least considered that marriage could have a protective factor against suicide. many times when we are considering something in our lives, if you are fully invested in a relationship then you are going to think of how your actions are going to impact the rest of your family. If one is married and has children then maybe, hopefully, you will not see suicide as an alternative. You will come up with a better way to look for a solution, one that would not be so devastating for your family.

  • Harmony


    March 26th, 2013 at 3:57 AM

    Think that most of us are pretty aware of when the people we work with and live with are experiencing issues that could lead to suicidal thoughts. These are the friends and co workers who need us the most, and it is our obligation to try to get them some help. Suicide is so devastating when it happens to a family, it deserves a lot more attention than it is often given

  • suicidal


    May 15th, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    Hello. you are very accurate in concluding that low iq can be responsible for suicide.

    I am a person of abnormally low iq myself. I am certain that I’ll have to do it one day. Being a man of low iq is extremely painful in this talent-based society. Friends bully me. Everything that they can accomplish in first attempt, takes significant effort from me. I can’t do a job independently. I always need someone’s help. You don’t know how much pathetic this is. The person I hate most is myself and I want a painful death for me, like drowning or jumping from a highrise building.

    Now, about marriage. The day I decided to do it (it was couple of years ago), I also decided to never marry. Coz committing suicide leaves wife & kids in a distressed condition (both financially & psychologically).

    I think its not a bad practice for a low iq person to commit suicide. Coz low iq people are more prone to mistakes. If he becomes a pilot, plane might crash. No important post is safe in the hand of a low iq man, as he makes mistake much frequently.

    I think a low iq man should have the right to commit suicide. Its for the best of all.


  • memo


    March 2nd, 2017 at 6:53 AM

    hey dont do that, there’s a lot of positive projects for you to embark upon. you can help your community more by contributing your time and effort to community service and other philanthropy

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