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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UAlbany: Persons with Eating Disorders Have an Elevated Risk of Suicide Attempt

Although rates of suicide are increasing in the U.S., little research examines how eating disorders (EDs) may be related to suicide attempts. Recent research from Dr. Tomoko Udo and MPH student Ms. Sarah Bitley, published in BMC Medicine, shows that adults with EDs have a heightened risk of suicide attempts.

Dr. Tomoko Udo and colleagues studied a nationally-representative sample of 36,309 adults through the 2012-2013 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, which included information on EDs and medical history such as suicide attempts. Information was gathered from participants via personal interviews.

Results showed that those with EDs had a 5-to-6 fold risk of suicide attempts compared to those without EDs. Those who had anorexia nervosa, particularly binge/purge subtypes, had an especially high risk of suicide attempt. Respondents with binge-eating-disorder (BED) and bulimia nervosa (BN) and suicide attempt history reported an earlier ED age of onset and most of those with BED reported having BED before their first suicide attempt.

These findings highlight the importance of improved screening for EDs, as early detection and treatment of eating disorders may also reduce suicide attempts.

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