Diego de Leo's Exceptional Story

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Professor Diego De Leo is one of the world’s leading researchers in suicide and suicide prevention. He was the Director of the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) from 1997-2015, is a past president of the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the International Academy for Suicide Research. He has designed and advised suicide prevention projects and programmes across the world, including working with the World Health Organisation.

 

His research has been presented in more than 700 publications and Diego is currently Editor-in-Chief of Crisis – The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention.

 

An exceptional doctor who has dedicated several decades to his speciality, Prof Diego De Leo’s work has been acknowledged with awards and accolades, including appointment as an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia.

 

Originally from Italy, Diego was fascinated by the complexities of psychiatry from a young age. Psychoanalysis had a strong intellectual following in Northern Italy when Diego was training, so he was attracted to the subject, but it was an incident during his years as a psychiatry resident that turned Diego’s specific attention to suicide research.

 

“[T]he first younger resident I was given as a junior supervisor was a fantastic fellow, he was a very alive, young, sporty, intelligent guy and it was easy to get on well together from the beginning,” explains Diego.

 

Though everything seemed to be going well, Diego was surprised and concerned when his young friend failed to show up for a research meeting. He was shocked to later learn that he had taken his own life.

 

“And so I decided to take an interest, which I didn’t have before at all, into suicide and why there were no signs, why I couldn’t pick up any suffering, any uneasiness or any discomfort in this person,” says Diego.

 

Diego moved to the Netherlands to complete a PhD in suicide with some of the world’s leading professors in the subject at that time. He focussed his dissertation on suicide and old age, an under-researched area of suicide and suicide prevention which led him to work with the WHO. He went on to run a psycho geriatric service and form Italy’s first Association for Suicide Prevention.

 

Diego has often quoted for his insights and comments on suicide; “suicide is not a disease. Suicide is a behaviour.” – and his insights into suicide prevention research - “[I]t’s not just psychiatry or psychology or sociology but it’s everything; it’s anthropology, it’s ethics, it’s biology, it’s socio sciences in the widest formats, public health, everything.”

 

In conversation with Dr Sam Hazledine, Diego De Leo discusses society’s over-emphasis on suicide as a result of mental health disorders and explains the complexities of research in this field.

 

Ultimately, Diego focusses on the importance of care and connecting with fellow humans; “the things that really are important are the capacity of listening, the capacity of giving words and understanding to people.” 

 

We’ve highlighted key topics for doctors from Diego and Sam’s conversation here and you can listen to the full podcast here.

Diego_de_Leo.png

 

Professor Diego De Leo is one of the world’s leading researchers in suicide and suicide prevention. He was the Director of the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) from 1997-2015, is a past president of the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the International Academy for Suicide Research. He has designed and advised suicide prevention projects and programmes across the world, including working with the World Health Organisation.

 

His research has been presented in more than 700 publications and Diego is currently Editor-in-Chief of Crisis – The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention.

 

An exceptional doctor who has dedicated several decades to his speciality, Prof Diego De Leo’s work has been acknowledged with awards and accolades, including appointment as an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia.

 

Originally from Italy, Diego was fascinated by the complexities of psychiatry from a young age. Psychoanalysis had a strong intellectual following in Northern Italy when Diego was training, so he was attracted to the subject, but it was an incident during his years as a psychiatry resident that turned Diego’s specific attention to suicide research.

 

“[T]he first younger resident I was given as a junior supervisor was a fantastic fellow, he was a very alive, young, sporty, intelligent guy and it was easy to get on well together from the beginning,” explains Diego.

 

Though everything seemed to be going well, Diego was surprised and concerned when his young friend failed to show up for a research meeting. He was shocked to later learn that he had taken his own life.

 

“And so I decided to take an interest, which I didn’t have before at all, into suicide and why there were no signs, why I couldn’t pick up any suffering, any uneasiness or any discomfort in this person,” says Diego.

 

Diego moved to the Netherlands to complete a PhD in suicide with some of the world’s leading professors in the subject at that time. He focussed his dissertation on suicide and old age, an under-researched area of suicide and suicide prevention which led him to work with the WHO. He went on to run a psycho geriatric service and form Italy’s first Association for Suicide Prevention.

 

Diego has often quoted for his insights and comments on suicide; “suicide is not a disease. Suicide is a behaviour.” – and his insights into suicide prevention research - “[I]t’s not just psychiatry or psychology or sociology but it’s everything; it’s anthropology, it’s ethics, it’s biology, it’s socio sciences in the widest formats, public health, everything.”

 

In conversation with Dr Sam Hazledine, Diego De Leo discusses society’s over-emphasis on suicide as a result of mental health disorders and explains the complexities of research in this field.

 

Ultimately, Diego focusses on the importance of care and connecting with fellow humans; “the things that really are important are the capacity of listening, the capacity of giving words and understanding to people.” 

 

We’ve highlighted key topics for doctors from Diego and Sam’s conversation here and you can listen to the full podcast here.

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