Suicide Risk Elevated for Those with Eating Disorders

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
March/April 2003 Volume 13, Number 2
©2002 Gürze Books

Women with eating disorders are at least 50 times more likely to commit suicide and also have a higher risk of attempting suicide than do women of the same age and race, according to Debra L. Franko, Ph.D. and colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital. For nearly 9 years the researchers followed 51 women with anorexia nervosa (AN), restricting subtype; 85 women with anorexia nervosa, binge-purge subtype; and 110 women with bulimia nervosa. The women were interviewed at 6- to 12-month intervals, and all who reported having depressive symptoms were asked about suicide attempts since the previous interview. During the study 4 women died by suicide; 23% reported at least one suicide attempt; and more than half (32) made several attempts. The diagnosis, duration of illness and binge frequency at intake did not distinguish those who attempted suicide from those who did not. The researchers found that higher frequency of purging or a history of alcohol or substance abuse or personality disorder did predict the time to the first suicide attempt among those with AN. Poorer psychosocial functioning was a significant predictor of suicide attempts for both anorexic and bulimic groups.

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