Suicide Prevention-Eating Disorders

If you or a loved one needs support for an eating disorder, visit or call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for confidential, free, 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year information and referral services. For anyone experiencing a crisis, immediate and confidential help is also available by calling or texting 988, the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

From February 26 through March 3, 2024, we recognize National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, a time to recommit to showing compassion for and empowering our fellow Americans impacted by eating disorders. This also is a time to demonstrate our commitment to the early diagnosis and effective treatment of eating disorders. Eating disorders are a serious public health concern, as an estimated twenty-nine million Americans—or 9 percent of the population—will have an eating disorder during their lifetime.1 Over 10,000 individuals die per year due to an eating disorder, and the economic cost of eating disorders is nearly $65 billion annually.2

Eating disorders include binge eating disorder, anorexia, bulimia, Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED), Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), pica, and rumination disorder.

There are a variety of genetic, biological, psychological, and social factors that are associated with the development of an eating disorder. 345

Disparities in Eating Disorders

Individuals of all income levels, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations and gender identities, and body sizes can be impacted by an eating disorder. The prevalence of eating disorders is similar or even higher among non-white individuals than white individuals.67 Almost 30 percent of those with eating disorders are male, yet males are 4.6 times less likely to be diagnosed with an eating disorder than females.8 Eating disorders are more common in sexual and gender minorities than cisgender heterosexual individuals for all eating disorders.91011

Eating disorders can develop in individuals of any body size. In fact, only 6 percent of those with eating disorders are underweight.12 It has been well documented that individuals who experience weight stigma—that is, discrimination because of their weight—are more likely to exhibit disordered eating behaviors than those who do not experience such discrimination.1314

Treatment for Eating Disorders

Eating disorders require not only psychological support, but also medical, nutritional, and psychiatric care. For pediatric patients, utilizing family-based therapy is considered the gold standard.15

Available Resources

Through SAMHSA’s funding for the National Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders (NCEED), we are expanding access to new tools and training for healthcare providers, families, caregivers, and community members so they can better identify and support individuals with eating disorders.

One Response to Suicide Prevention-Eating Disorders

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