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In giftedness, is there more darkness?

By Marisa Spyker June 26, 2017

Everyone can name a few: Robin Williams, Sylvia Plath, Hunter S. Thompson. The brilliant who fell hopelessly into despair.

These high-profile suicides often suggest that gifted minds are more prone to darker days. But is that true?

A new William & Mary Institute for Research on the Suicide of Gifted Students aims to answer that question and find solutions for early intervention.

“Our country does a terrific job of keeping statistics on suicide deaths, but giftedness is not a variable that is tracked,” said Tracy Cross, Jody and Layton Smith Professor of Psychology and Gifted Education and the executive director of the Center for Gifted Education at William & Mary. “Few things have been written on the topic, and those that have been written usually have no data. It’s basically just smart people theorizing about why gifted students would be more or less vulnerable – and there are champions on both sides of the argument.”

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