Suicide prevention: University students’ narratives on their reasons for living and for dying

Ines Testoni, Silvia Piol, Diego De Leo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social isolation and loneliness are increasing in our contemporary western society and seem to correlate with suicide in adolescents and young adults. Social Workers are a potential re-source to create such initiatives and projects that promote inclusion and cohesion within communi-ties, a protective factor against suicide. Sixty-two Social Work BA students participated in a Death Education course based on education on suicide prevention. Participants carried out two activities. First, they were invited to complete two written semi-structured interviews on young people’s reasons for living and dying. Second, they were invited to design suicide prevention interventions tar-geted at their peers and adolescents. Data were analyzed qualitatively within the Thematic Analysis framework. As regards the first activity, four main themes were identified: (1) Internet and social media; (2) social isolation and loneliness; (3) the importance of proximal relationships; and, (4) the importance of networking between proximal relationships, educational institutions and mental health services. Whereas, as for suicide prevention interventions, three main ideas were identified: (1) suicide prevention through community and networking between services; (2) academic institu-tions: high schools and universities; and, (3) suicide prevention through new technologies. To con-clude, Death Education as education on suicide prevention can offer young people a space in which to voice their and their peers’ reasons for living and dying and to reflect upon their contribution to suicide prevention as students and as future professionals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8029
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number15
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • College students
  • Death Education
  • Social support
  • Social work
  • Suicide
  • Suicide prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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