For people with an eating disorder, life is very difficult — sometimes so difficult that they’re not sure they want to go on living. For their loved ones, it can be challenging to know when behavior is a sign of understandable sadness and frustration and when it is an indicator of something more serious. At our anorexia recovery center in Roseville, we tell families that if they get any sense at all that a person is suicidal, it’s best to intervene immediately.
What Drives the Increased Suicide Risk?
While it’s impossible to say exactly what makes a particular person with an eating disorder have a higher risk of suicidal thoughts or actions, there are many factors that may play a role. They fall into a number of different areas including:
In most cases, it’s a combination of these factors that raises a person’s risk. They produce a variety of negative thoughts and emotions including feelings of shame, sadness, hopelessness, rejection, and fear. People with eating disorders are also commonly battling other mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, or borderline personality disorder, which can increase their risk of self-harm or suicide.
Indicators to Watch For
Unfortunately, people who attempt suicide don’t always provide clues to what their actions will be. However, in many cases there are signs, including:
- Excessive sadness or expressions of hopelessness
- Sleep disturbances
- Dangerous behavior
- Abrupt calmness — an indicator that they’ve come to peace with their decision to end their life
- “Tying up loose ends” such as selling or giving away positions, getting business affairs in order, etc.
- Acquiring the means of suicide such as a gun, poison, etc.
- Threatening suicide
What to Do
When a person exhibits any of the behaviors above and it makes you think they may be planning self-harm, it’s important to take action promptly. This should include:
- Staying with them if possible
- Taking them to the nearest emergency room
- Contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for free and confidential support
- Contacting their eating disorder or mental health counselor if they have one
- Notifying other members of their support group such as family and close friends if appropriate
Getting People with Eating Disorders the Help they Need
Our anorexia recovery center in California has programs that help those with eating disorders address their condition and get on the path to better mental health. Contact us to learn more: 916-784-1120.