International Journal of Existential Positive Psychology

The Impact of Meaning in Life and Reasons for Living on Suicidal Behaviour: A Systematic Review

Evan M. Flynn, MScMH

Queen Mary, University of London


A systematic review is presented which aims to synthesize relevant literature focused on the influence of Meaning in Life (MiL) and Reasons for Living (RFL) on Suicidal Behaviour (SB). It also aims to elucidate the utility of meaning-centred practices for psychological treatment and risk assessment of suicidality. Thirteen papers of suitable quality were sourced through a rigorous search strategy and a narrative synthesis was performed. The findings present encouraging indications that both RFL and MiL play a role as protective factors against SB. Nevertheless, additional in-depth research is imperative to establish these associations with greater certainty. Additional findings also allude to a cultural universality of the protective aspects of MiL and RFL on SB and provide further insights into the subcomponents of life meaning: search for MiL and presence of MiL. Associated risk factors of SB such as hopelessness, life regard and mental pain are also discussed in relation to MiL and RFL. Overall, this study paves the way for further research on the topic and draws attention to something that is frequently neglected in the psychiatric community, namely, the consideration of the transcendental aspects of human nature.

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