Susan M. De Luca is an assistant professor at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work and core faculty at the Center for Women and Gender Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. De Luca’s additional appointments include her faculty research associate positions with the National Research Consortium of Counseling Centers in Higher Education, and the Population Research Center (P2CHD042849, NICHD) which are both housed at The University of Texas at Austin.

De Luca has received 15 grants since she arrived at UT Austin, including funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Health Disparities, the St. David’s Foundation, the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health and The University of Texas at Austin’s Office of the Vice President for Research.

Her research concentrates on minority suicide prevention spanning young adolescence to emerging adulthood with a focus on college students. De Luca’s primary area of interest is examining help-seeking attitudes and behaviors and barriers to care during times of distress. Her research has found distinctions surrounding the specific individuals college students disclose to while ideating, Latino adolescents’ help-seeking attitudes and social coping resources associated with family, peer and teacher support and children’s self-reported level of closeness related to parental mental health. She just completed an examination of suicidal trajectories of racial/ethnic minorities and its intersection with gender over 14 years (1 R03 MH112015-01A1). And her recently funded study (1R03MH122852-01) will observe how religious affiliation and religiosity is related to suicidal risk among sexual minority adolescents and young adults.  Her future research goals include creating and testing a conceptual model that addresses social-ecological factors that influence adolescents’ risk for suicidal behaviors for racial/ethnic and sexual minority adolescents. This work will ultimately lead to a culturally appropriate, upstream prevention approaches for this higher-risk group.

De Luca was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Individual and Family Studies at Kent State University. She was selected for national service as an AmeriCorps*VISTA working with three communities in her home-state on various prevention efforts focusing on adolescents. De Luca then moved “up north” where she earned her MSW from The University of Michigan. Upon graduation, she returned to Cleveland where she was a clinical social worker for the Department of Justice Affairs Batterers’ Intervention Program. De Luca has a passion for social policy and was offered a research associate position at Kent State University’s Department of Political Science serving on their Mayor’s Think Tank Initiative. She continued her work as the policy advisor for the Ohio Commission on Hispanic and Latino Affairs while working towards her Ph.D. at The Ohio State University. Upon graduation, De Luca was offered a competitive, three-year Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NIMH, T32) at the Center for the Study and Prevention of Suicide at The University of Rochester’s Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry.

De Luca is also the 2015 recipient of the Lora Lee Pederson Teaching Excellence Award due to her passion for teaching social justice coursework. She not only enjoys teaching her students about essential social work topics, but often shares that her students teach her every day from their encounters in-and-out the classroom. This is an experience she is most grateful for and humbled by each semester.

Professional Interests

Suicide prevention with a focus on early adolescence to emerging adulthood; culturally appropriate interventions; help-seeking attitudes and behaviors; mental health disparities