LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. -- Eating disorders are deadlier than any other mental illness. The disorders can result in heart attacks and organ failure, but there's also a high risk of suicide.
In junior high, friends noticed that Emily Heim was going to the restroom during lunch. They were concerned she was purging. The diagnosis of bulimia came a year later. The Lee's Summit girl received treatment, but her mom says it was never enough. Insurance limited the days Emily could spend in a treatment center.
"They get you stable and it's like a band-aid fix, but they really don't get at the root of the problem," says Suzi Heim.
Behind Emily's smile, an agonizing struggle with bulimia and also anorexia went on for seven years.
"I think she came to a point she was just really, really worn out and exhausted," says Suzi.
Emily took her life two years ago at the age of 21. Suicide is estimated to be 23 times more common in people with an eating disorder compared to the general population.
"The pain never goes away, but you learn to cope and go on and that's one reason why we're doing the walk," says Suzi.
Suzi is an organizer of the first walk in Kansas City for the National Eating Disorders Association. It will be Saturday at Berkley Riverfront Park. For details, click here.
The goal is to raise money for advocacy for better insurance coverage and earlier, more comprehensive treatment. Money also goes for the association's helpline (1-800-931-2237) and people-to-people support.
Suzi thinks Emily's message would be this.
"Please try to help others help themselves because I couldn't help myself."
A devastated mother wants others to have hope.
For more resources on suicide, click here.