Suicidal Ideation among Medical Students: An Integrative Review

  • Wendney Hudson de Alencar Fontes Estácio - FMJ
  • Yohanna Karen do Santos Silva
  • Francisco Matheus Prado Luna
  • Raissa Maria Rolim Bem de Morais
  • João Paulo Gomes Feitosa
  • Fabione Gomes da Silva
  • Filipe Costa Lisboa
  • Maria do Socorro Vieira Gadelha
  • Modesto Leite Rolim Neto


Background: Suicide is more common among people who follow a medical career. This occurs because undergraduation course subjects students to psychologically strained situations, which can reduce their mental health and predispose them to suicidal ideation.

Objectives: To analyze the factors related to suicidal ideation among medical graduates, highlighting depression and personality traits. To check stigmas surrounding suicidal ideation.

Methodology: An integrative review study was carried out using the Scopus database (Elsevier). We selected studies published between 2014 and 2019, using two descriptors: "medical students" and "suicidal ideation".

Results and Findings: 139 scientific articles were selected, of which 10 met the eligibility criteria. Specific personality traits and depression predispose to suicide. Although the stigma of suicide and substance use is greater among men, female gender, poor financial status, and psychiatric disorders increase depression scores. Students close to graduation are more likely to cope with stress than others.

Limitations: The articles included in this work were produced using different methodologies and different measurement instruments. The prevalence of depression and suicidal ideation among students may be greater, given that stigma may favor the occurrence of response bias.

Conclusion: Rates of suicidal ideation are very prevalent in medical students. To solve this problem, medical schools should take steps to prevent adverse situations.



1. Berryman EK, Leonard DJ, Gray AR, Pinnock R, Taylor B. Self-reflected well-being via a smartphone app in clinical medical students: Feasibility study. J Med Internet Res. 2018 Mar 07;4(1):82–92.
2. Coentre R, Faravelli C, Figueira ML. Assessment of depression and suicidal behaviour among medical students in Portugal. Int J Med Educ. 2016 Oct 29;7:354–63.
3. Rosiek A, Rosiek-Kryszewska A, Leksowski L, Leksowski K. Chronic stress and suicidal thinking among medical students. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2016 Feb 15;13(2):212-27.
4. Raeisei A, Mojahed A, Bakhshani NM. The Relationship between Personality Styles of Sociotropy and Autonomy and Suicidal Tendency in Medical Students. Glob J Health Sci. 2015 Mar 9;7(3):345–50.
5. Mojs E, Warchol-Biedermann K, Głowacka MD, Strzelecki W, Ziemska B, Marcinkowski JT. Are students prone to depression and suicidal thoughts? Assessment of the risk of depression in university students from rural and urban areas. Ann Agric Environ Med. 2012;19(4):770–4.
6. Chow WS, Schmidtke J, Loerbroks A, Muth T, Angerer P. The relationship between personality traits with depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation among medical students: A cross-sectional study at one medical school in Germany. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Jul 11;15(7):1462-72.
7. Merlo LJ, Curran JS, Watson R. Gender differences in substance use and psychiatric distress among medical students: A comprehensive statewide evaluation. Subst Abus. 2017 Oct-Dec;38(4):401–6.
8. Moher D, Liberati A, Tetzlaff J, Altman DG, Altman D, Antes G, et al. Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: The PRISMA statement. PLoS Medicine. 2009.
9. Rivera-Segarra E, Rosario-Hernández E, Carminelli-Corretjer P, Tollinchi-Natali N, Polanco-Frontera N. Suicide stigma among medical students in Puerto Rico. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Jun 29;15(7):1366-73
10. Alpaslan AH, Avci K, Soylu N, Guzel HI. The Association between Problematic Internet Use, Suicide Probability, Alexithymia and Loneliness among Turkish Medical Students. J Psychiatry. 2014 Sept 5;18(1):207–214.
11. Sobowale K, Zhou N, Fan J, Liu N, Sherer R. Depression and suicidal ideation in medical students in China: a call for wellness curricula. Int J Med Educ. 2014 Feb 5;15(5):31–6.
How to Cite
FONTES, Wendney Hudson de Alencar et al. Suicidal Ideation among Medical Students: An Integrative Review. International Archives of Medicine, [S.l.], v. 12, may 2019. ISSN 1755-7682. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 06 dec. 2019. doi:
Psychiatry & Mental Health