National Eating Disorders Association

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My Friend Won't Accept Help... She's Close To Death

Hi there.

My friend is very underweight. It is obvious to me and many others that she is anorexic and close to death. I'm scared- we all are. She continues to insist that she is just naturally skinny, but she didn't used to be this skinny. Three years ago, she was still skinny, but much healthier. Tumblr and posts all point to the fact she is anorexoc, but she still denies it. None of us know what to do. She's killing herself and I don't know how to help. If she keeps going, she'll be dead soon enough. She's over 18, so no one can force her to go, but there must be some way to make her get help? I can't keep watching her do this to herself.

Please help.

Hi sarahdikdik,

Thank you for posting here! I'm sorry to hear how ill your friend is; you're definitely being a loyal friend by trying to seek help and advice for her. It can definitely be a challenge to address an ED with someone if they don't seem to want to acknowledge it. The "ED voice" in a person's head can be very deceptive and make it hard for people to seek help or even understand how dire the situation is. But you're right, EDs can be deadly and the situation needs to be taken seriously.

One strategy may be to have your friend take NEDA's online ED screening quiz: . It may help her see how serious the situation is and better understand her symptoms.

Your friend (or you) can also call or chat online with the NEDA Helpline to get information on ED symptoms and treatment options and other resources near you:

This article might be helpful for you, too: . It goes over strategies for approaching this topic with your friend.

You're right that because your friend is 18, it's harder to get her to seek treatment. However, if her health situation is dire enough, she may be forced to by the circumstances. (Involuntary hospitalization for people with EDs is certainly controversial, and I'm definitely not an expert on the subject.) At her very low weight, it's likely that she's having other physical side effects and health problems (see: You might see if she would be willing to go to a doctor for a general check-up. A health professional would note how underweight she is and may pick up on other health consequences as a result of her ED and that may help as a wake-up call for her. You could even show her that article from NEDA about ED health consequences to show her how risky this is if she doesn't seek help.

Does your friend have family members she is close to that you could reach out to? Perhaps they might be in a better position to intervene.

This is definitely a complicated situation. Those of us on the forums, and the people at NEDA are here for you. NEDA has lots of great resources. Here is a page with links to some: . The "Parent Toolkit" may be useful; it's not just for parents of those with EDs--it has a lot of great information.

I hope this is a helpful starting point! We wish you and your friend the best. Please keep us updated! We're here for you.

Not accepting help...

You know, some people really don't like to admit to their ED for various reasons, but dollars to dimes she's awfully depressed as well.

Which…that's something that can be easier to admit to, as well as easier for some people to reach out for help for too.

So that might be an alternate direction from which to approach her about this ? If she's not getting help for depression already I mean.

Bob J.

Checking in....

Hi sarahdikdik,

I just wanted to check in to see how you and your friend was doing. I know it's been some time since you last posted and I wanted to see if your friend was able to seek treatment. Always know that you have a place here on the NEDA forums for a listening ear and I hope you and your friend are doing okay. Feel free to post on here as often as you would like and we will be thinking of you and your friend!

Erin_Patricia1 <3 <3

I know some people in my life

I know some people in my life who are going underweight as they don't eat properly and they don't even listen also. I have tried my best to convince one of my friends to eat more food or at least get treated but my friend denied my request several times.

Hey evanmarcus.

Hey evanmarcus.

That sounds rough. Have you talked to any mutual friends of yours and theirs that might be interested in helping these people out?
Maybe if they hear it from more than one person they'll take it more seriously. Or maybe if you guys can talk to them at the same time to express your concerns. And depending on their age, if they're young enough, you could try talking to their parents. Or if they're older and have significant others that might be a good idea.

The point I'm trying to make is that people with EDs need a big support network.
Oh, and I do just want to add that some people are naturally "underweight". I've been right at the threshold of whats considered underweight for my height/sex and I've never shown signs of ED.

That being said I do not know your friends. And with that I'll leave a few links that might help you out:

- Adage