Today we’re doing something that many people struggle with…talking about suicide. It’s World Suicide Prevention Day – a day that provides an opportunity for people, across the globe, to raise awareness of suicide and suicide prevention.
We recognise that this may be difficult for some of our readers, so we are going to ask you to exercise your self-care in deciding if this is the right time for you to be reading this…by that we mean: is today the right day? Is this the right point in your day? Is this the right point in your recovery? We encourage you to notice if you need support in reading this blog. Sometimes having someone alongside you is helpful so you can discuss thoughts or feelings as they arise. If this feels like it might be useful think about who you might ask to be there for you.
As always, please remember that you set the pace. Knowing what you can manage and supporting yourself in that is essential in taking care of yourself. Stop reading if you recognise you have read enough or if you notice feelings that are being awoken. Employ your self-care activities. Reach out with comments, questions or observations. We are always glad to hear from you.
Eating disorders, like anxiety or depression, are disorders of emotional distress. They often exist alongside other mood and/or anxiety disorders – this is called “co-morbidities” or “co-occurring conditions”. Often, the eating disorder is fuelled by these underlying issues and complexities, which is why treatment for recovery cannot focus on food and eating alone. These co-occurring conditions can mean that eating disorders are accompanied by suicidal thoughts or attempts.
What is the relationship between suicide and eating disorders?
According to the National Elf Service, approximately 9% of all people with eating disorders report having serious thoughts of attempting suicide at some point in their lives and 3% actually make a suicide attempt.
Anorexia Bulimia Care, an eating disorder charity based in Bristol, states that approximately 20-40% of deaths in Anorexia are thought to result from suicide.
Eating Disorder Hope states: “suicide is the most common cause of death among individuals with eating disorders. While eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric disorders.”
There are many reasons why someone may feel compelled to suicide, but some reasons may include a sense of hopelessness, a distorted sense of reality and/or not thinking clearly and/or malnourished, feeling as though they are a burden on their loved ones, or, feeling like there is no other way out of their lived experience.
It’s vitally important to talk about suicide
As heart-breaking as it is to read and write about this, it is vitally important to talk about suicide.
One of the most common myths about suicide is that talking about suicide may give someone the idea. This is not the case. In fact, one of the most helpful and preventative things a person can do is to bring it up and discuss it openly:
“Are you thinking about suicide?”
The difference between self-injury and suicide
“In addition to suicide attempts, up to 40% or more of people with eating disorders engage in deliberate, non-suicidal, self-harming behaviours.” Psycom.net
It’s important to note the difference between self-injury and suicide. Self-injury can be defined as acts of self-harm that are negative coping mechanisms. There may be no suicidal intent associated with these actions, but instead, “help” someone to cope with overwhelming emotions or a feeling of numbness.
There is always hope and possibility, no matter how dark the days
- You are not alone. Whilst it can feel incredibly isolating to consider suicide, there are people who have been through it, who understand, and who can help. Find these people
- Life is always moving forward and changing. Nothing is permanent and you cannot know what is around the corner. Stay curious
- Every day and every experience that we have in life is an opportunity to learn – no matter how good or bad the experience
- We are the designers of our life – our perspective on life is within our control and is what matters. We always have a choice
- Whilst our life is our own, it is also shared with people that we love and who love us in return
- You are not at the end of your story. You can start over as many times as you need to. This doesn’t make you a failure, it makes you resilient
- Life is FULL of second chances
- Emotions are not permanent. This too shall pass.
Some books that may help:
- Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
- When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron
- 21 reasons to keep living when you feel suicidal
There are people who care and who want to help
If you, or someone you know, are having thoughts about suicide, it’s extremely important to reach out for help. There are many organisations and charities who exist for precisely this reason and can support without judgement, and family and friends are often helpful in a time of crisis.
In an emergency:
Call 999 or visit your local GP
Take time to reflect on how this may have touched you, and, as we suggest at the beginning, take the necessary steps to take care of yourself. We understand both the pain and the impact suicide and thoughts of suicide raise – both for the person experiencing it directly, and for those around it. Thank you for joining us in creating this space to consider this sensitive, but important, issue.