Suicidal behaviour among university students: a systematic review

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16 Citations (Scopus)


A systematic literature review was conducted to explore worldwide prevalence studies on student suicide, the risks and protective factors related to student suicide, and university-based interventions to combat it. The search of four major databases identified 60 studies published in peer-reviewed academic journals between 2015 and 2020. Majority of these publications were from the United States, followed by China and the United Kingdom. Studies in South Africa and the African Continent as a whole were limited in terms of meeting the selection criteria of the review. The findings indicate that most of the publications ranged from describing suicide risk factors innate to students, such as their demographic and mental health features, to social and university stressors. Although the studies on protective factors were limited, several psychological, social, and behavioural elements to prevent student suicide were identified. I adopted the Three-Step Theory of suicide to discuss the implications of the findings by presenting several campus-based strategies to combat student suicides.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-66
Number of pages13
JournalSouth African Journal of Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Protective factors
  • risk factors
  • students
  • suicide attempts
  • suicide ideation
  • suicide intervention
  • university strategies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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