Having shame and anxiety over our body is no way to live, yet it’s a reality for many. And now comes the horrifying news that suicidal thoughts over body image are also common.
A new report on body image includes the shocking finding that 1 in 8 adults in the UK have had suicidal thoughts or feelings because of concern about their body image. Additionally, 1 in 5 felt shame because of their body image and 1 in 3 felt anxious or depressed because of concerns about their body image.
We know from this and other research that body image concerns are a major factor driving disordered eating and other dangerous behaviors. For that reason it’s essential to address body image as a part of stepping out of the dieting cycle. A good first step is to make a conscious effort to reduce the judgement you have of your own body and the bodies of others through paying attention to your self talk. When you catch yourself with critical thoughts, try to replace them with kinder ones. And if you experience suicidal thoughts about body image (or anything), please reach out for help.
The 2019 report from the Mental Health Foundation contains a detailed analysis for children, adults, and older adults, with sections addressing long term health, ethnic background, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The report includes policy and personal recommendations. You can access the summary and a link to access the full report for free below.