Kerry Washington reveals she contemplated suicide over eating disorder


Kerry Washington is known for her role as Olivia Pope in the series Scandal. Photo: Handout

Kerry Washington opened up to Robin Roberts in a new 20/20 special, detailing her long battle with an eating disorder and how it led her to contemplate suicide.

In the interview, Washington said she developed an eating disorder as a teenager and continued struggling for many years. “I was very ashamed of it,” she explained. “I didn’t want to talk about it.”

By the time Washington went to college, her eating disorder had become a vicious cycle of “abuse that utilised the tools of starvation, binge eating, body obsession, and compulsive exercise.”

“I could feel how the abuse was a way to really hurt myself as if I didn’t want to be here. It scared me that I could not want to be here because I was in so much pain,” she said.

According to the US National Eating Disorders Association, about 30 million people suffer from eating disorders. Washington eventually sought help for her eating disorder and she is now in recovery. She hopes telling her story will help others struggling with eating disorders and suicidal thoughts.

“The first time that I actually got on my knees and prayed to some power greater than myself to say, like, ‘I can’t do this; I need some help,’ was with my eating disorder,” she said. “The behaviour was just so abusive toward myself with food, with exercise, with starving – with bingeing, with – it just was – I could not control it.”

“I want people to know that there is help available,” Washington added. “You don’t have to go through this alone.” – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Tribune News Service

Those contemplating suicide can reach out to the Mental Health Psychosocial Support Service (03-2935 9935/ 014-322 3392); Talian Kasih (15999/ 019-261 5999 on WhatsApp); Jakim’s family, social and community care centre (011-1959 8214 on WhatsApp); or Befrienders Kuala Lumpur (03-7627 2929/ email befrienders centres in malaysia).
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