Three components of eating disorders increase the risk of hopelessness and suicidal thoughts for people with eating disorders.
The first risk factor is secrecy. The eating disorder thought process involves a constant need for secrecy. Only in private can someone fully engage in the eating disorder. This urge often leads to lying and hiding in order to create time and space for the illness and the behaviors. Since most people with eating disorders are straightforward and direct, the secrecy creates a sense of hopelessness and despair based on behaviors anathema to their true selves. The idea that the illness leads them to behavior so out of character opens the door to feeling hopeless that life can ever change or be different.
A deep sense of shame, something I have explored many times in his blog, creates a thought process of feeling intensely negative thoughts about oneself. Years of reinforcing behaviors and thoughts can create a hopeless feeling of being trapped in this shame with no way out. Shame is often a feeling that inundates all other feelings about oneself. Buried in shame, someone with an eating disorder typically feels very hopeless.
Most people will seek treatment at some point, but the kind of therapy they receive makes a difference as to whether this cycle of hopelessness continues unhindered or comes into question. Seeing a clinician with a profound knowledge of eating disorder thoughts quickly makes a sufferer imagine that the secrecy, shame and hopelessness may very well be unfounded. It makes the idea and process of recovery realistic. On the other hand, a session with a less experienced clinician can only confirm these fears thereby strengthening the hopelessness and suicidal thoughts.
Suicidality is a common and very serious component of chronic eating disorders. It is the absolute responsibility of the treatment community to provide solace and guidance to find a way out of this desperation towards treatment and recovery.