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Smart and Suicidal? The Social Ecology of Intelligence and Suicide in Austria

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According to de Catanzaro's (1981) evolutionary theory of human suicide, a threshold intelligence is necessary for suicidality. A corollary deducible from this assertion is that intelligence and suicide mortality should be positively related. The present study tested de Catanzaro's corollary within a country. Using district-level IQ data of the entire non-institutionalized Austrian male year-of-birth cohort of 1969 who survived up to compulsory military conscription, including IQ testing in 1987 (n = 55474), the subsequent (1987–2001) district-level cohort loss due to suicide mortality was investigated. Across 99 Austrian districts, the regional IQ was weakly but statistically significantly, positively related to the regional standardized suicide rate as well as to the regional percentage of mortality due to suicide in this very cohort, when these relations were controlled for likely confounders (male divorce and unemployment rates and male net income), but not statistically reliable without these controls. It is argued that the most parsimonious interpretation of these aggregate-level findings remains that intelligence level and suicide mortality are positively related.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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