Last week I presented a talk at the annual MEDA Conference on an often ignored fact about eating disorders—those struggling with eating disorders have high suicide rates and are at increased risk of suicide.
Buried in a new study led by Sonja Swanson, Sc.M., of the National Institute of Mental Health were new statistics on suicidality among adolescent with eating disorders. The study examined eating disorder data from a nationally representative sample of 10,123 adolescents ages 13 to 18 years. The primary purpose of the study was to determine the prevalence rates of anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and subthreshold eating disorders.
In a few short paragraphs in the article were data on suicidality in eating disorders. The study’s authors found that adolescents with eating disorders had higher rates of suicidal ideation, planning, and attempts than their peers without eating disorders.
A sample of the study results:
Rates for Suicidal Ideation (thoughts about suicide)
- One-third of adolescents struggling with anorexia
- One-third adolescents struggling with binge eating disorder
- More than half of those with bulimia
- A little more than 10% of adolescents without an eating disorder
Rates for Suicide Attempts
- About 8% for those with anorexia
- About 35% for bulimics
- 15% for those struggling with binge eating disorder
- 3% of adolescents without an eating disorder
Suicide is a deadly byproduct of eating disorders. Those struggling with eating disorders are more apt to think about suicide, plan and ultimately attempt suicide.
More light needs to be shed on this issue.