By: Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C
Eating disorders are the second deadliest mental illness. Every 62 minutes, someone dies, as the direct result of an eating disorder.
Cardiac or respiratory arrest is one of the most common causes of death for individuals with bulimia. Heart disorders are the most common cause of death for people with anorexia. About half of the deaths caused by anorexia are due to sudden cardiac deaths. Additionally, morality rates for OSFED are just as high as for individuals with anorexia or bulimia.
Since binge eating disorder was only more recently added as a diagnosis to the diagnostic and statistical manual, there is less data regarding mortality rates, however it is just as serious as other eating disorders.
Eating Disorders and Suicide
Another prevalent cause of death for people with eating disorders is suicide. The following are a few factors, which help to explain this.
How to Cope with Suicidal Thoughts
First off, if you are struggling with an eating disorder and suicidal thoughts, I want to send so much compassion to you.
This can feel so incredibly painful and exhausting-it’s can almost be hard to put words to.
The fact that you are reading this article, shows me that there is part of you (even if it’s a tiny part) that doesn’t want to die.
Here are a few important steps to take:
1. Reach out!
The worst thing that you could do would be to continue to hold this inside and tell no one.
If you are not sure if you can keep yourself safe please go to your nearest ER, call 911, or contact the nearest suicide hotline via chat or phone.
If you feel that you can commit to keeping yourself safe, but are having suicidal thoughts-reach out to your therapist, doctor, member of your treatment team, the suicide hotline, or another supportive person in your life.
If you aren’t meeting with a therapist, consider finding someone who specializes in eating disorders/depression in your area.
Seeking help when you are struggling is a sign of true strength, not weakness.
2. Feel your feelings and talk back to your thoughts.
When you are struggling with an eating disorder and/or depression-your mind has been hijacked.
It’s kind of like you are wearing a pair of dark sunglasses, which color your perception of the world around you.
When people are struggling more intensely with eating disorder or depressive thoughts, their perception of reality may be very skewed by the eating disorder/depression.
It’s as if they are viewing things through a pair of “eating disorder” or “depression” sunglasses.
Through therapy we can slowly work to take the sunglasses off, so that they can start to view things in a healthier way.
It’s so important to practice talking back to your unhelpful thoughts. I will often assign clients to dialogue between their “eating disorder self” and their “authentic self” (always trying to end on the authentic self).
Eating Disorder Self: It seems unfair that I have to keep living like this. I just don’t know if I can keep living like this. It’s so exhausting.
Authentic Self: You’ve felt this way before and things have gotten better. These feelings are only temporary, but dying is a permanent solution. Suicide isn’t a solution-it would transfer your pain onto the people who you care about the most. Why don’t you give this recovery and improving your life thing a shot?
Eating Disorder Self: But what if things don’t get better? I’m scared that I’ll be trapped in this cycle forever. I’d rather die than live with this for the rest of my life. Things are already falling apart. I’ve gained so much weight and I don’t think I can tolerate gaining any more.
Authentic Self: Suicide or sinking back into your eating disorder, will only create more pain and suffering, either for the people that you love or for yourself. Neither of these things are the answer, and you shouldn’t have to struggle with all of this without support. Why don’t you reach out to the suicide hotline to talk to someone? I guarantee if you reach out for support, do something relaxing, and then get some sleep-things will feel a bit better in the morning. The only reason that you would not recover, is if you stopped trying. You’ve already come so far. Don’t give up on your recovery (or yourself) now.
3. Be kind to yourself.
Beating yourself up for struggling with an eating disorder and having suicidal thoughts, will only make you feel even worse.
It’s not your fault that you are struggling with this. No one would choose to have an eating disorder or suicidal thoughts, because both things are so painful and exhausting.
I’ve seen people who once felt totally trapped by their eating disorder and suicidal thoughts, who are now in strong recovery or recovered-and who feel much more hopeful overall.
Even for those whose depression persists after recovering from an eating disorder, there are still things that you can do to learn how to better cope with and change your relationship to your depressive thinking-so that it doesn’t have so much power over you.
Recovery Is Possible
No matter what your eating disorder might be telling you, recovery is possible.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts please reach out for help and support by contacting the suicide hotline, going to the ER, or calling 911.
You are so not alone in this, and help is available.
Schedule a free 15 min consult for therapy in MD and VA or recovery coaching worldwide.
The Eating Disorder Center is a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center founded by Jennifer Rollin. We specialize in helping teens and adults struggling with anorexia, binge eating disorder, bulimia, OSFED, and body image issues. We provide eating disorder therapy in Rockville, MD, easily accessible to individuals in Potomac, North Potomac, Bethesda, Olney, Silver Spring, Germantown, and Washington D.C. We also provide eating disorder therapy in Arlington, Virginia and virtually throughout Virginia. Additionally, we offer eating disorder therapy virtually in New York (NYC), Florida, and California, serving those in cities including Palo Alto, San Francisco, Newport Beach, Los Angeles, Woodland Hills, San Jose, and Beverly Hills. We provide eating disorder recovery coaching via Zoom to people worldwide. Connect with us through our website at www.theeatingdisordercenter.com
*Disclaimer: The information is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for your independent medical decision-making nor a recommendation or endorsement for any particular treatment plan, organization, provider, professional service, or product.
The Eating Disorder Center
We are a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center in Rockville, Maryland.