Beyond the wall: Death education at middle school as suicide prevention

Ines Testoni, Elisa Tronca, Gianmarco Biancalani, Lucia Ronconi, Giovanna Calapai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigates the psychological effects of participation in Death Education (DeEd) by middle school children in two towns in northeast Italy in which suicides occur to a greater extent than in the rest of the region. The aims of the project “Beyond the Wall” were inherent to the prevention of suicide, address existential issues and enhance the meaning of life through positive intentions for the future and reflection on mortality. It involved eight classes (150 students in four classes in the experimental group; 81 in four classes in the control group) engaging with films, workgroup activities, photovoice and psychodrama. The constructs of resilience, emotional competency and psychological well-being were monitored with the Resilience Scale for Adolescents, the Hopelessness Scale for Children, the Alexithymia Questionnaire for Children and the Stirling Children’s Well-being Scale. The DeEd intervention was found to be significantly related to some of the variables investigated, improving the students’ ability to recognise emotions and communicate them verbally while maintaining stable initial characteristics, such as psychological well-being and positive expectations for the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2398
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Adolescence suicide prevention
  • Death education
  • Photovoice
  • Psychodrama

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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