This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. We want to take a moment to reflect upon the devastating losses that so many loved ones have endured because of suicide. Suicide affects people of all walks of life and should not be taken lightly. It is an act of extreme desperation and depression, and should be treated as such. Knowledge is our strongest weapon when it comes to prevention, so here are a few characteristics that are common amongst suicidal people (Note: not all people that commit suicide will have all or any of these characteristics):
How does this relate to the work we do at Kantor and Kantor? According to ANAD, "eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, and a suicide rate is 50 times higher than that of the general population."
"According to a study conducted by Favazza (1987), the rate of self-injurious behaviors is relatively high for both anorexic and bulimic individuals. Nearly 35% of people struggling from anorexia nervosa engage in acts of self-destruction while nearly 25% of bulimics engage in similarly related behaviors. Additionally, it is expected that 50% of self-mutilators have a history of either anorexia or bulimia. Although there is limited knowledge about the connection between self-harming tendencies and eating disorders, it is speculated that such self-harming behaviors complement disordered eating in the sense that these behaviors help to temporarily relieve anxiety, and serve as a physical manifestation of such distress."
Many of our clients struggle with suicidal thoughts or actions because of their eating disorders, especially when stressors are added. A key example of this is when insurance companies start denying treatment. When someone with an eating disorder makes the very courageous decision to go into treatment, the stress of insurance reviews, out-of-pocket payments, or the knowledge that their loved ones are going into debt can often lead to suicidal ideation or worse. Some patients have to be put under 72-hour watch when they find out about a denial because it discourages them so much from continuing treatment. Potential clients often contact us with denial letters stating the patient's illness is "not severe enough" to warrant treatment. This can be one of the most demoralizing things to hear as a patient. To understand that you are sick and need help and then to be told that you are not sick enough can force you to move backwards in recovery. This quick and thoughtless act by the insurance companies can make a patient feel unworthy and helpless, which is common in treatment to begin with.
How can you help? Anyone that has dealt with suicide before, whether it was a loved one or oneself, knows how painful it is. Awareness, compassion, and advocacy can always help. If you or anyone you know is considering suicide, there are resources available. Call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential. (National Institute of Mental Health)