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Suicide attempts in women with bulimia nervosa: frequency and characteristics


Dr Martine F. Flament, INSERM, Unité CNRS UMR 7593, Hôpital La Salpêtrière, 47-83 Boulevard de l'Hôpital, 75013 Paris, France


Objective:  This study aimed to estimate the lifetime frequency of suicide attempts in a large referred population of women with DSM-IV bulimia nervosa (BN), and to compare demographic and clinical characteristics of those who had attempted suicide and those who had not.

Method:  A total of 295 women (202 with BN purging type, 68 with BN non-purging type and 25 with anorexia nervosa binge/eating purging type) were assessed using a semi-structured interview and self-rated questionnaires.

Results:  Suicide attempts were frequent (27.8% of women), often serious and/or multiple. Women who had attempted suicide differed significantly from those who had not for earlier onset of psychopathology, higher severity of depressive and general symptoms, and more impulsive disordered conducts, but not for the core symptoms or severity of BN.

Conclusion:  Interventions targeting depressive and impulsive features associated with BN are essential to reduce the risk of suicide attempt in women with this disorder.