Bingeing, Purging, and Suicidal Ideation in Clinical and Non-Clinical Samples of Youth
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Suicidal ideation is a serious mental health concern reported by adolescents. Despite understanding of increased suicidal ideation in patients with eating disorders (EDs) and obesity, few studies have compared how disordered eating (bingeing, vomiting and over exercising) is associated with suicidal ideation in clinical and non-clinical samples of youth across the ED and weight spectrum. The present study aimed to 1) comparatively examine rates of suicidal ideation and disordered eating behaviors in clinical samples of youth with EDs, complex obesity, or from the community, and 2) examine whether disordered eating was associated with suicidal ideation above and beyond age, body mass index, diagnosis, treatment-seeking status, and depressive symptoms in large samples of males vs. females in an attempt to understand whether these behaviors should lead to concern regarding suicidal ideation. Data from charts on treatment-seeking adolescents diagnosed with either an ED (N = 315), severe complex obesity (N = 212), and from the community (N = 3036) were pooled together for comparative purposes. Results showed that suicidal ideation was higher in youth seeking treatment for an ED (50.2%) and obesity (23.7%) as compared to youth from the community (13%). Binary logistic regression analyses revealed that vomiting (OR = 1.73 for females, 8.17 for males) and over-exercising (OR = 1.47 for females, 1.68 for males) was significantly associated with suicidal ideation in both males and females. Findings underscore the importance of screening for suicidal ideation in youth who report vomiting or over-exercising despite diagnostic presentation, age, weight, or treatment setting.