Letter to the editor: Eating disorders and suicide


National Eating Disorders Week was held between Feb. 27 and March 5 in our country.

The three types of eating disorders that have been studied the most are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder.

According to the Mayo Clinic, anorexia nervosa is a disorder characterized by an abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of weight. Anorexia is an extremely unhealthy and sometimes life-threatening way to cope with emotional problems. Studies have shown that, overall, up to 20% of those with anorexia attempt suicide, and as many as 43% report suicidal ideation.

Bulimia nervosa, commonly called bulimia, is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder. Individuals with bulimia have episodes of binging and purging that involve feeling a lack of control over their eating. They typically eat a large amount of food in a short time, then try to rid themselves of the extra calories in an unhealthy way. Studies show about 45% of people who suffer from bulimia reported experiencing suicidal ideation.

When a person has binge-eating disorder, they regularly eat too much food (binge) and feel a lack of control over their eating. They may eat quickly or eat more food than intended, even when they are not hungry. Suicidal ideation is estimated to be approximately 23% for individuals with binge-eating disorder and they are five times more likely to have attempted suicide than peers without binge-eating disorder.

Some of the common symptoms of eating disorders include weight loss and extreme dieting, preoccupation with food, calories, carbohydrates and fat grams, refusal to eat certain foods, food rituals, skipping meals, withdrawal from friends and activities and extreme concern with body size and shape.

The Jason Foundation is a valuable resource for information on eating disorders and suicide. The Jason Foundation is dedicated to the prevention of youth and young adult suicide through educational and awareness programs that equip young people, educators, medical professionals and parents with the tools and resources to help identify and assist at-risk youth. For more information on eating disorders and their relation to suicide, visit jasonfoundation.com/eating-disorders. 

Morgan Marks,

chief development officer of The Jason Foundation