important to reach out to your child’s pediatrician, nutritionist,
or other mental health professionals to help you feel supported
and get the best care for your child. Setting the course for a
life. So even if you are uncertain whether there may be a problem,
it never hurts to reach out to professionals.
6 Signs of Suicidal Thinking
Suicide is a major cause of death among those
with anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder.
Learn how to recognize the warning signs of
suicidal intent in people with an eating disorder
Eating disorders wreak havoc on the body, so it’s no secret
that people who struggle with them are at risk of death. But few
people may realize that people with eating disorders are also at
increased risk of suicide. The suicide rate for people with eating
disorders is higher than the rate in the general population.
The mortality rate for people with anorexia nervosa is
One study of young girls with anorexia found that 60% of the
participants exhibited suicidal behaviors and 49% exhibited selfharm
behaviors. Another reported that roughly 17% of people
with anorexia attempt suicide at least once in their lives, with
people who develop purging symptoms having higher rates of
attempts than those with restrictive symptoms. These statistics
demonstrate the importance of assessing whether a person with
an eating disorder is experiencing suicidal thoughts and getting
them the appropriate treatment.
Self-Harm and Eating Disorders
People with eating disorders are also at risk for developing
self-injurious behaviors. These behaviors can include cutting,
hitting, burning, poisoning, or other actions that attempt to turn
psychological pain into physical pain. Researchers estimate that
30 to 40% of people with an eating disorder will engage in selfharm.
People who self-harm do not have the intention of committing
suicide, but they are at increased risk of accidental death
due to the extent of the injury or developing suicidal thoughts.
Therefore, clinicians who treat people with eating disorders are
encouraged to assess for a history or potential risk of self-harm
Risk factors for suicide
among people with an eating
disorder can include:
• previous suicide
• social isolation
• additional mental illness
• lack of fear of death
• thinking that they are a
It’s also important to recognize the warning signs that frequently
precede suicide attempts. People who are experiencing
suicidal thoughts will feel hopeless and guilty about being a burden
to others because of their eating disorder. They might have
a sudden increase in substance use or other reckless behaviors.
They may experience mood swings or increased anxiety or anger.
They may begin to isolate from others or begin to give away
their possessions. People may begin to talk about death or dying
or not being around in the future. They also may begin to think
about death and create a plan to harm themselves.
What You Can Do
If you have a friend or family member with an eating disorder
who is experiencing suicidal thoughts, it’s important that
you show them support. There is often a fear that talking about
suicide will make someone suicidal, but this is a myth. Asking
someone if they are thinking about suicide does not put the
whether they’re planning on hurting themselves or committing
suicide. Tell them that you care about them and that their life is
meaningful. If a person has a plan and the means to harm themselves,
help them restrict access to things like pills, weapons, etc.
They should also develop a crisis plan that determines what they
could do if they experience suicidal thoughts in the future, such
as going to the hospital, calling 911, calling a friend, or engaging
in coping behaviors that improve their mood.
Once the initial threat of suicide has been addressed, it’s important
to help connect someone to long-term treatment for their
eating disorder, suicidal ideation, and other conditions such as
depression or substance abuse. Inpatient or intensive outpatient
programs can be vital for helping a person with an eating disorder
stabilize both their physical and mental health. A doctor or
mental health professional can connect them to treatment programs
in the area.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, never hesitate to
reach out to someone for help. Many hotlines like the National
Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) are available
24/7 and free. The National Eating Disorders Association
also has a hotline at 1-800-931-2237 and an online chat feature
that are open certain days of the week, and they can connect you
with resources and treatment options to help you get started
with your recovery.
Eating disorders are treatable, and thoughts of suicide can
be managed and overcome. What steps can you take today to feel
happy and whole again?
CPR, AED, First Aid, BBP Training and more!
American Heart BLS