I was thinking the other day how strange it is that despite the body-focused repetitive behaviour community being part of the larger mental health community, there are still some topics that don’t get discussed. It’s especially strange considering how candid we are behind the closed doors of our support groups on Facebook and even CBSN’s peer support groups.
Think about it: we talk about picking and pulling at intimate areas of our bodies, we talk about navigating sex and confidence in the bedroom with a BFRB, we talk about the “gross” or bizarre ways we even pick or pull and we talk about comorbidity a lot.
Yet the one topic that doesn’t come up too often is suicide. Maybe I’m just out of touch with the community and have missed these posts coming up on my feed, but I think that we still tend to skirt around that subject when it comes to BFRBs.
The reality is, however, BFRBs can lead to thoughts of suicide as well. The stress, anxiety and overall hardship of living with skin picking, hair pulling, nail biting or whatever BFRB can lead to the same feelings of hopelessness that anxiety and depression can do on their own.
For September 10th, World Suicide Prevention Day, I wanted to highlight that area of struggle that BFRBers face and let everyone know that just because we might not talk about it all the time doesn’t mean you’re the only one experiencing it.
My skin picking was a pretty large factor in my own suicidal thoughts. I felt like there was no escape to this disorder that no one could put a name to and no one could help for it either. I was stuck and hated living like that.
Only a few people responded to my request to share about how BFRBs have contributed to their suicidal ideation, but here are some of them.
I definitely thought about committing suicide several times throughout high school and the beginning of college. – skin picker
I’ve pulled since I can remember. I turned 45 this year and still pull. I’ve learned to only pull a few. I keep my bald spots hidden under my long hair. It’s embarrassing to me. As an adult I’ve attempted suicide. Sometimes it’s too much. – hair puller
Being alive was an excruciatingly painful task every day because nothing got better and my mind went to dark places that should never be visited. – Angela Hartlin, skin picker
There are so many times when I look in the mirror and feel absolutely disgusted and disappointed by my reflection. When you have a disorder that affects your skin, there is no real escape. Sometimes it feels like the only way out is suicide. – Samantha Wright, skin picker
The self-inflicting nature of this disorder often leaves you feeling like the only escape is from yourself, and suicide feels like the only real way to do that. – skin picker
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please reach out to hotlines, friends, family or whoever you need to.