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My sister is eating staples?!?!

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#1 kiminokokoro


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Posted 22 October 2015 - 03:04 AM

I am 21 and my sister is 19. We live together and have become super close in recent years. She has been suffering from depression for years now but luckily I have excellent health insurance (or at least, good enough) and got her into a therapist a long while ago. While she is still depressed she is no longer suicidal which I find to be a HUGE step in the right direction. I like to celebrate the small victories with her. 


I came to find out when she was opening up about one of her sessions (which she does with me from time to time) that she has consumed inedible items ever since she was a kid. At nineteen she still frequently eats paper including the shavings from ripping out pages from her spiral notebooks, candy wrappers and gum wrappers, among other items here and there. Then she said she eats STAPLES, as in the little pieces of metal used to bind paper. She said she quit eating them for most of high school but now eats them whenever she is stressed or just wants to munch on something. I understand eating paper items, and although not healthy it makes sense to me. I use to put everything in my mouth as a kid and I suppose she never grew out out the toxic habit, but STAPLES?! 


I was hoping someone with pica could explain this to me as I am rather confused and my sister was unsure of how to explain this. I tried to do research online but found very little about it. So I am turning to one of my favorite forums to ask all of you:


Do you eat staples?

Do you eat any other metallic items?

Do you have any idea what attracts you to these said items?


For now I have bought an iron supplement (melts in her mouth, as she has a hard time swallowing pills) for my sister in case it is her body's reaction to not getting enough iron in her diet, even if she isn't testing as anemic. It's a wild guess, but if it may help I am willing to try it.


I also worry about the health risks. Perhaps it could scratch her throat, puncture her stomach, get stuck in her intestines. . .

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Posted 22 October 2015 - 03:09 AM

Well I don't have pica thank goodness, but medically a craving for metallic items means you are deficient in either iron or copper. If she eats staples, theoretically the stomach acid has hydrochloric acid which IS strong enough to break down metal but if it does not she could have them get stuck in her intestines or worse puncture them. If she is ever bleeding from her butt that means she could have a tear.
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#3 SparklyMermaid


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Posted 23 November 2015 - 06:05 PM

you said she does this when she gets stressed. i immediately started thinking this could be a form of self-injury. some people swallow sharp objects. just a thought you might want to bring up/have her talk to her therapist about.

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#4 skinny-dream-xo


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Posted 23 November 2015 - 06:21 PM

Well I'm not sure what to say. Does she actually swallow them? There's nothing really u can do only just to tell her how it is dangerous and bad for her. Maybe spend more time with her too...

#5 iri


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Posted 23 November 2015 - 11:20 PM

That sounds really dangerous and scary. Your sister could get really hurt from eating staples. Not only could they cut her inside, but they could also contain toxins that could make her ill. Tell her to be careful and try to get her something different to munch on. Get her a bag of cola balls. Or sprinkles. Something small like that. The candy wrappers are also dangerous because they could cause a blockage.


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Posted 05 December 2015 - 04:25 PM

i don't think it's very healthy.  the glore psychiatric museum in st. joseph missouri has a story of a woman who ate many items she found around the hospital.


"Artistic legacies of certain patients are on display, too. There is an imaginative arrangement of 1,446 items swallowed by a patient and removed from her intestines and stomach. She died during surgery from bleeding caused by 453 nails, 42 screws, safety pins, spoon tops, and salt and pepper shaker tops."



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Posted 06 December 2015 - 12:09 AM

i only ate staples a couple of times between age 7-8 so i don't know if this counts or if i can even recall the reason why i did it. like you i also ate paper during that time. what i remembered was that i only did it in school, never at home. does she chew them a lot and move them around her mouth like gum? or does she not chew at all/only enough such that she can swallow it? if its the former i think its just the sensation of something in her mouth which she can move around repetitively without it breaking down (cuz metal) as a distraction from her surroundings or feelings. metal feel better than paper in this case bc it doesn't break down or digest so you don't have to switch a new one which breaks the rhythm. if its the latter im not sure, it could either be a mineral deficiency as you suspected or more dangerously a self harm method. i still remember fear/worry which lasted only a few seconds then the pride/relief (???) when it went down without a hitch, so it could be that kind of feelings that she is chasing?? or im just a natty kid that puts everything in my mouth lol. hope she gets better :) and you sound like a great sister haha (im an only child >.<)

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Posted 06 December 2015 - 12:10 AM

im sorry 

id be so scared if someone i loved started doing that 

that could kill her if she keeps it up 

#9 escape-pestilence



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Posted 06 December 2015 - 03:04 AM

oh my goodness i'd be so terrified for her that can be deadly 


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Posted 20 December 2015 - 01:30 PM

please keep being such an amazing sibling, I hope things bet better, that's dangerous and terrifying

also be careful, iron in excess can be poisonous


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