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Suicide by Food: The Relationship Between Eating Disorders and Suicide


Dr. Sheila Forman


health, fitness, and beauty

Dr. Sheila Forman, a former practicing attorney, has PhD in psychology, and is a one of the first qualified Mindfulness Based Eating Awareness Training (MB EAT) Instructors in the world. Often characterized as having the mind of a lawyer and the heart of a therapist, Dr. Sheila has devoted over twenty years to helping people address weight and food issues by focusing on the emotional aspects of overeating.

For most of  us food is something we choose to nourish us, to celebrate with or to quell bad feelings. But for 28.8 million Americans, their relationship with food can lead to an eating disorder at some point in their life. And, sadly, as many as 60% of Americans who struggle with an eating disorder attempt or complete suicide. Why? What is it about eating disorders that makes a person contemplate suicide?


Dr. Sheila Forman is a Psychologist, Mindful Eating Instructor, and founder of TAME Your Appetite: The Art of Mindful Eating. She is an expert in helping people cope with their emotions without eating and using a non-diet approach to lose weight and make peace with food. She is also the author of several self-help books, including Do You Use Food to Cope? A Comprehensive 15-Week Program for Overcoming Emotional Overeating, and The Best Diet Begins in Your Mind - Eliminating the Eight Obstacles to Permanent Weight Loss.

Here are 6 reasons why an unhealthy relationship with food can have such devasting effects:

1.      Eating disorders lead to isolation. People with eating disorders tend to hide their behaviors from others by isolating. Isolation can lead to depression, which can lead to suicide.

2.      Obsessive Thoughts about food and appearance. Image being plagued by constant negative and oppressive thoughts that impair your ability to lead a healthy life. For some who suffer like this, the only way to stop the intrusive thoughts is to stop everything via suicide.

3.      Constant binging, purging and/or starving takes its toll. Some psychologists think that eating disorders are a slow suicide because of the damage eating disorders cause on the body. Without help, up to 20% of eating disorder cases lead to death. 

4.      Negative self-image makes the idea of dying appealing. Self-hatred and self-loathing often coincide with eating disorders. The idea that the eating disordered person is worthless, useless and unlovable can lead them to not value their life very much.

5.      Comorbid disorders. Somewhere between 56 and 95% of eating disorders patients also have another diagnosable disorder. The most common comorbid disorders include depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and substance abuse. These additional conditions increase the person’s suffering and can lead to suicidal ideation and completion.

If you or someone you love has an eating disorder and is thinking about suicide, please get help immediately. Resources include:

1.      Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

2.      National Eating Disorders Organization

3.      National Institute of Mental Health

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