Katrina Wilson M.A. RPC
World Suicide Prevention Day 2020
Author: Katrina Wilson M.A. RPC
Every year, Canada joins over 50 countries around the world to promote awareness, education, and support around suicide prevention. This year, on September 10, 2020, the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP) is calling on communities and organizations to work together to prevent suicide in our country.
The prevalence of suicide rates in our country is staggering, with the CASP reporting over 4000 deaths by suicide per year, and 11.8% of people disclosing having thought about suicide within their lifetime (2020). It’s no secret that mental health plays a major role in these numbers, and it is well known that those experiencing depression are at a high risk of attempting suicide. What is less recognized is the pervasiveness of suicidality in people who struggle with eating disorders. Suicide is attempted by 3-20% of individuals struggling with Anorexia Nervosa, and 25-35% of people with Bulimia Nervosa (Franko & Keel, 2006). This isn’t surprising, given the incredible impact that eating disorder behaviors and thinking patterns have on someone’s quality of life. The hopelessness, isolation, interpersonal conflict, and co-occurring mental illnesses contribute to the increased risk for suicide attempts.
It is crucial for communities, clinicians, and loved ones to understand that thoughts of suicide often go hand in hand with eating disorders. Often clients express to us the feeling of hopelessness and helplessness, seeing suicide as the only way out of the eating disorder’s grip. However, we know that there is hope, and offering support to someone who is struggling in this way can ensure they get the help they need to find some light in the darkness of the eating disorder.
Being a support for someone struggling with suicidal thoughts can be scary and intimidating. However, intervening could be as simple as having a conversation with the person about how they are feeling, without judgement or knee-jerk reactions. It is expressing concern, while listening with empathy and compassion. It doesn’t mean you have to have all of the answers or know exactly what to do. Helping someone feel less alone is a significant part of supporting someone struggling with an eating disorder and with suicidal thoughts.
The CASP has a comprehensive list of resources that people can turn to when struggling with suicidal thoughts. Please visit https://suicideprevention.ca for more information on how you can help yourself, or someone you care about.
Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. (2020). World Suicide Prevention Day. https://suicideprevention.ca
Debra L. Franko, Pamela K. Keel. (2006). Suicidality in eating disorders: Occurrence, correlates, and clinical implications. Clinical Psychology Review, 26(6), 769-782.