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A Journal on Psychiatry, Psychology and Psychopharmacology

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Social Psychiatry
Indexed/Abstracted in: EMBASE, e-psyche, PsycINFO, Scopus, Emerging Sources Citation Index




Minerva Psichiatrica 2007 December;48(4):387-96

language: Italian

Suicide and anorexia nervosa

Pompili M. 1,2, Innamorati M. 3, Tatarelli R. 2

1 McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School Boston, MA, USA
2 Dipartimento di Psichiatria Ospedale Sant’Andrea Università di Roma “La Sapienza”, Roma, Italy
3 Università Europea di Roma, Roma, Italy


Suicide is a major health issue in patients with eating disorders. Recent research has reported suicide rates in eating disorder patients higher than those in the general population. The aim of the study was to review research on suicide in patients with anorexia nervosa. To retrieve the main papers published on scholar journals, we performed a search of the major databases for the biopsychological sciences (MedLine, PsycInfo and Embase). Anorexia nervosa affects 0.3% of the young women in the US and in European countries; and suicide in this population is one of the leading causes of death. The risk factors for suicide include purging behaviour and the switch from the subtype with restriction to the purging subtype, lower body mass index, and comorbidity with obsessive-compulsive symptoms, substance use disorders and major depressive episodes. In patients with anorexia nervosa, the self-destructive drive may be associated with a generalized disorder in the perception of their own body image. Primary prevention and school based community programmes are the first choice of treatment for eating disorders. Clinicians must pay attention not simply to the eating and weight control behaviours, but also to the suicide risk.

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