Co-existence of eating disorders and NSSI, suicide attempts and ideations is well established yet much is not known about the personality traits and behavioral tendencies that maintain this relationship. To this date no empirical work has been produced that offers a multifactorial view on the contributing variables to the occurrence of self-harm behaviors in EDs.
Binge eating, depression, impulsivity, ruminations and loss aversion were assessed in a sample of 93 patients diagnosed with Anorexia-Nervosa and Bulimia-Nervosa and other EDs with a history of NSSI and suicide attempts.
Binge eating was found to be a predictor of depression, which in turn was found to be related to NSSI frequency, suicide attempts and suicide ideations. Ruminations were found to mediate a relationship between depression and suicide ideations. Trait impulsivity predicted suicide attempts, while the attentional construct of impulsivity was associated to suicide ideations as well as attempts. Higher loss aversion was positively associated with NSSI frequency and suicide ideations.
Our findings suggest that trait and state aspects of impulsivity are related to different self-harm behaviors in EDs. Exploring these differences is potentially of great value in understanding the process of transition from suicidal ideation to suicide attempt and the process of NSSI and may assist clinicians formulate better interventions for patients with EDs at risk. Ways in which individual findings in our model correspond with previous research and future implications are discussed.