Every year, the Lifeline and other mental health organizations and individuals across the U.S. and around the world raise awareness of suicide prevention during September, National Suicide Prevention Month. Unfortunately, individuals struggling with eating disorders are at high risk of experiencing suicidal thoughts and tendencies. Suicide can be prevented, however, and we all can play a part in saving someone’s life.
According to the Center for Disease Control, eating disorders, specifically anorexia, have the highest mortality rate out of all mental health disorders. Whether it is from medical complications or suicide, eating disorders are known to kill. Studies have shown that individuals with anorexia nervosa have the highest successful suicide rates and individuals with bulimia nervosa have the greatest number of suicide attempts. Risk factors for suicide in these populations include older age, lower weight, co-occurring psychiatric condition, history of physical or sexual abuse. and current substance abuse. Individuals with eating disorders often will have a false sense of reality, may feel unworthy or hopeless, battle with disordered thoughts, have feelings of being emotionally trapped and feel as if they are a burden resulting in suicidal thoughts and attempts.
Recognize These 6 Warning Signs of Suicidal Thinking
Regardless of the reason, people who are considering suicide often show similar signs and behave in similar ways. Some of those signs are more obvious than others. People with eating disorders who are experiencing suicidal thoughts may:
- Talk about having no reason to live, or feeling hopeless and guilty about being a burden to others because of their disorder.
- Increase their use of alcohol or drugs, or engage in other reckless behaviors.
- Experience mood swings, display increased anxiety or anger, or suddenly display a sense of relief or improvement in symptoms
- Begin to withdraw from social activities, isolate themselves from others or start to give away their possessions.
- Express thoughts about death or dying or not being around in the future, even going so far as to say goodbye to family and friends.
- Start to create a plan by searching online and elsewhere for ways to end their lives.
Getting Help for Yourself or Someone Else
If you have a friend or family member with an eating disorder who is showing signs of suicidal thinking and behavior, call the confidential National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for help at 800-273-8255. Suicide is preventable and some form of help is always available.