Anorexic woman saved by strangers at Tennessee YMCA – response to this National article

This article clearly depicts how dangerous, and sometimes deadly, a mental illness such as anorexia can be.

This article was reprinted in the Johnson City Press on Sunday March 30, 2014 but the article ended abruptly and left out the entire section of the girl’s recovery process so I encourage you to read the online version from USA Today.

The USA Today online version also gives signs and symptoms of eating disorders along with tips on how to approach a friend or finding treatment.   You can learn more about eating disorders at A Place of Healing in Johnson City. The only eating disorder resource center in the Tri-Cities area.

A short synopsis of the USA Today news article:

A group of gym members noticed a fellow gym member (Lauren Lax) who seemed to have anorexic and bulimic behaviors.  As “strangers” to this girl, they formed an intervention along with the girl’s parents, and talked her into going to the hospital. Lauren Lax proceeded to partake in treatment facilities over the next year and because this concerned group stepped in, she is now living her life in recovery.

An eating disorder survivors resoponse to this article

Although this story has a happy ending, there are certain circumstances in this article that need additional commentary.

Let me start by saying, if no one had stepped in as this group did, it is likely that Lax would have died within the next months.

However, it needs to be said that eating disorders are not always obvious.  Many people suffer in silence every day with shame or guilt of an eating disorder and typically try to hide their disease.

Also, this particular “kidnapping” method as quoted from the article, will not work in all situations.

Here’s what I think the concerned group did appropriately and are tips that can be applied before approaching someone who you suspect may have an eating disorder:

  1. They educated themselves on eating disorders by learning behavior patterns and understanding that eating disorders are diseases that need help of professional counselors, nutritionists, and physicians.
  2. They contacted the gym staff and Lax’s parents
  3. They were persistent in their concern for Lax’s health
  4. They continued to support Lax during her time of treatment


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Please contact A Place of Healing to learn more tips on approaching a friend or loved one in this situation.

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Posted in Eating Disorders