More recent studies, as we noted in Chapter 7, have found that the literature on the relationship between education and suicide is more equivocal. On the one hand, in a study of 43 nations Lester found a positive association between education and suicide (Lester 1996). On the other hand, in a study restricted to the 50 States in the US Saucer found no signifi cant correlation between education levels and suicide rates (Saucer 1993). In Chapter 7 we noted that increasing gender equality in educational attainment in India is strongly and signifi cantly correlated with higher total and male suicide rates. If we summarise that fi nding by looking at the relationship between literacy, the most basic marker of education, and suicide we fi nd that there is a very strong, positive and highly statistically signifi cant relationship. In Figure 10.1 we have used the percentage of male literates for the 14 major Indian states from the 1991 census and regressed the suicide rates for 1997 on to it (the results are virtually identical for female literacy rates). In states such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh where literacy is lowest, suicide rates are also quite low. There is a nearly linear relationship between increasing rates of literacy and suicide rates, the extreme case being Kerala, which has both the greatest literacy and the highest suicide rates of the major states. The regression equation indicates that a 10 per cent increase in literacy is associated with a 5 per cent increase in the suicide rate. The strong relationship between literacy and suicide in India raises the question of whether it is simply literacy by itself that is responsible for this linkage. Or are increasing levels of education associated with higher levels of suicide?