Participation in sports activities and suicide prevention

David Lester *, Michele Battuello **, Marco Innamorati ***, Ilaria Falcone **, Enrica De Simoni **, S. Diletta Del Bono **, Roberto Tatarelli ** and Maurizio Pompili **/****

(*) The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Pomona, NJ, USA
(**) Department of Psychiatry, Sant’Andrea Hospital, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy
(***) Università Europea di Roma, Rome, Italy
(****) McLean Hospital – Harvard Medical School, MA, USA


Lester, D., Battuello, M., Innamorati, M., Falcone, I., De Simoni, E., Diletta Del Bono, S., Tatarelli, R., Pompili, M. (2010). Participation in sports activities and suicide prevention. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 41(1), 58-72.


The aim of the present article is to review research on the link between physical activity and involvement in sports and suicidality. This review of the literature indicated that physical activity and sports participation may have a beneficial impact on suicidality, at least in boys and men and in some ethnic groups. However, it is not clear whether physical activity acts directly on suicidality (e.g. affecting the serotonergic system in the central nervous system) or through a mediating variable such as depression or higher self-esteem. Furthermore, the review has identified some inconsistency in the results, and methodological problems with the research have been identified.

Keywords: Depression, Physical activity, Hopelessness, Suicide