Academic performance in childhood and the risk of attempting suicide as an adult

R. Kosik, A. Fan*, G. Mandell, T. P. Su, T. Nguyen, J. Chen, S. Buka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background and objectives Previous studies have identified education as an important indicator of future psychological outcomes through the lens of parental education level. Here, we seek to understand how education affects suicide through the perspective of the child's education. Methods The current study follows a cohort from the Providence National Collaborative Perinatal Project from birth to adulthood with a follow-up at age 7. Through measures of reading, writing, and IQ administered at follow up, we examine the effects of early childhood education on adult mental health status and suicide attempt. Results We found that among males, those scoring below 88 on the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT) had a suicide attempt rate of 14.4% while those whose scores were above 106 had a suicide attempt rate of 8.8%. In females, the suicide attempt rates for those with WRAT scores below 88 and above 106 were 18.6% and 9.5%, respectively. We also found that females scoring below 89 on measures of Full-Scale IQ had much higher suicide attempt rates (16.6%) than those with higher scores. Conclusions Our findings suggest that reading and writing, and thus educational attainment at age 7, were predictive risk for suicide attempt in adulthood. Educators, parents, and mental health professionals should be aware of this association and monitor students who perform poorly academically for signs of depression and suicidal ideation, offering the appropriate support when necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-79
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • Birth cohort
  • CPP
  • Risk factors
  • Suicide
  • WRAT


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