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Diego de Leo

Diego de Leo, MD, PhD, Italy
Director (2020-2024)

Prof. Diego De Leo, Doctor of Science, is Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at Griffith University in Brisbane. Professor De Leo is Past President of the International Association for Suicide Prevention and co-founder and Past President of the International Academy for Suicide Research, of which he co-founded the journal Archives of Suicide Research. Prof De Leo is the Editor Emeritus of the journal Crisis and sits in the board of several international journals. Awarded Officer of the Order of Australia, for his work on psychiatry and suicide prevention, he has been the initiator of the World Suicide Prevention Day (2003). Presently, he is Vice-President of the Italian Psychogeriatric Association, head of the Slovene Centre for Suicide Research, and director of the Department of Psychology, University of Primorska, Slovenia.

De Leo received a degree in medicine and Surgery at the University of Padua in 1977, and then a diploma in psychiatry, also at Padua. In 1981 he studied behavioural sciences at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands. During this time a close colleague took his own life; this led De Leo to pursue suicide as a research topic. He focused his research on suicides in the elderly, and completed his doctorate in 1988. His dissertation, entitled Sunset Depression, was developed into a book on self-destructive behaviour in the elderly, Depression and Suicide in Late Life.

De Leo presented findings from his dissertation on Sunset Depression to members of the World Health Organization in Geneva, and in 1991 was asked to organize a meeting in Padua, Italy, on the future of mental health in the world. He continued to work with WHO, researching a number of topics from depression and stress-related conditions, and participating in international committees and task forces on the quality of suicide mortality data.

In collaboration with WHO Headquarters and the European Office he studied quality of life, particularly in the elderly. With David Jenkins, he created PEQOL, an evaluation package for quality of life in old age, and then with Jouko Lonnqvist, Rene Diekstra and Marco Trabucchi the LEIPAD. In 1995 he co-chaired WHOQOL, a project to develop an instrument for measuring health related quality of life.


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