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Severe Obesity and Suicidality



sharma-obesity-depressionLast night, I arrived in Leipzig after, a week in New Delhi (where I was reminded again of the incredible power of “gut bugs”), for another round of the IFB Obesity Diseases International Advisory Board meeting at the University of Leipzig.

Part of this work on the Advisory Board involves reviewing the many publications that are emanating from this very productive and diverse obesity research network.

One example is the recent paper by Birgit Wagner and colleagues, who examined the relationship between BMI and suicidality in a paper published in Depression and Anxiety.

In this paper, Wagner and colleagues looked at interviews conducted in a German population-based sample of almost 2500 indiiduals regarding suicide attempts and suicidal behaviours.

Not only did this analysis reveal a surprisingly high rate of suicidal behaviours (13% in men, 33% in women) and suicide attempts (13% in men, 27% in women) in individuals with a BMI greater than 40, but individuals in this category were were 12 times more likely to have attempted suicide compared to normal weight individuals.

This is an important finding as it should prompt clinicians to undertake systematic and proactive exploration of suicidal behaviours in all patients presenting with severe obesity – most importantly those seeking bariatric surgery.

AMS
Leipzig, Germany

ResearchBlogging.orgWagner B, Klinitzke G, Brähler E, & Kersting A (2013). EXTREME OBESITY IS ASSOCIATED WITH SUICIDAL BEHAVIOR AND SUICIDE ATTEMPTS IN ADULTS: RESULTS OF A POPULATION-BASED REPRESENTATIVE SAMPLE. Depression and anxiety PMID: 23576272

2 Comments

  1. It really shouldn’t be surprising that very fat people are depressed. Look at the society we live in. Fat stigma and bias on a daily basis. Truly, I can’t go into the public without dealing with it one way or another. It does appear that the bigger you are the worse it is. Then there are articles and news stories, daily, about how, just by living, the obese are draining the economy and starving the rest of the world. The predatory diet industry telling you if you can’t get thin you are nothing. Drs telling you if you won’t lose weight they can’t help or treat you. Family and friends saying things like, “What happened to you? I remember when you were just tiny!” Let’s not even go into the added expenses for insurance, clothes, and furniture. All delivered with a “you need this for your own good, because if you would just get a grip on your life and eat less you wouldn’t be having these problems.” Enough already, I can only speak for myself, but I am perfectly happy at home, with my kids and grand kids, my husband and dear old friends. But ask me to go someplace with other people and my anxiety levels soar because even in polite society, people feel free to judge, and disparage the fat. Fat people are depressed? Who would have thought it?

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  2. Exactly. And I’d like to add this: If doctors are concerned about fat people’s mental health, then they should start by taking a look at how they treat their fat patients. Do they treat their patients like human beings who are deserving of respect and proper medical care, yes, even if they never get any smaller? If not, then they are part of the problem.

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