DOI: 10.3390/ejihpe14010005 ISSN: 2254-9625

An Ecological Inquiry on Young People’s Suicidal Ideation at University: Individual, Relational and Cultural Factors and Their Interactions

Silvana Nuñez Fadda, Hugo Ciambelli Romero, Naiara Gradilla Lizardo, Jorge Sánchez Castillón
  • Applied Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

To understand the factors related to suicidal ideation in university students, we examined individual and microsystemic variables with an ecological model organizing bidirectional influences between different dimensions. Suicidal ideation, psychological distress, multidimensional self-concept, loneliness, community social support, life satisfaction, family functioning, bullying victimization, and problematic use of virtual social networks were measured in a sample of 376 Mexican university students (67% women) from 18 to 34 years of age (M = 20.8). Data were collected in March 2020, before mandatory confinement for COVID started in Mexico. Discriminant analyses showed that psychological distress, loneliness, self-concept, life satisfaction, family functioning, internet violence/rejection, and informal social support predicted belonging to high or no suicidal ideation groups with 88% accuracy. Only psychological distress and family self-concept predicted suicidal ideation in multilinear regression analyses. There were differences by gender in multilinear regression, with family self-concept significant for women and physical self-concept, but not family self-concept for boys. Conclusions: Early Suicide prevention in universities should include periodic screening of psychological distress, loneliness, and virtual social media use to identify students that need further evaluation and intervention. University-based strategies of mental health promotion that strengthen family relationships and the sense of community, including gender-sensitive orientation, could enhance the effect of protective factors.

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