Dear Rhonda & Dr. Cheri: My friend's a cutter
Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
Hi! I am very concerned about one of my best friends and was wondering if you could help me out?
She is suicidal and does not think highly of herself at all. Almost every day she comes to school, and I notice she had recently been cutting herself. I have tried and tried to build up her confi-dence by telling her how beautiful, smart, and caring she is! But she replies by telling me that she is hideous and everyone hates her!
One day she decided that she would try to stop. So, we did this thing where everyone who cared for her and wanted her to stop, would write their name on her wrist and if she did it again, she would be hurting all of us. She quit for about two days, which made me very happy and proud! The next day, I found out that she had been cutting her thighs so we could not tell. I was very disappointed and I decided to just give up. But it just does not feel right letting her continue! I have talked to her before, but she just talks bad about herself the whole time!
My friends and I have been trying to help her for the last two months. We can't decide if we should just ignore her and stop giving her the attention or keep helping her! But what else can we do to help? Please help us!
Friend's a Cutter
Dear Friend's a Cutter,
You are a true friend and you need to remember that so you do not become depressed and code-pendent. Your idea to have other friends write their name on her wrist was very creative, smart, loving and thoughtful. You have done your best.
We are sure that your friend loves and appreciates you, however, the fact that she did cut herself again, but not where you could easily see it, shows that her issue isn't about you and others that care. Her issue could be caused by self-hatred, usually from deep and severe trauma
Cutting is rarely for attention seeking purposes. It's the only way some girls feel they can release their internal pain externally. It's often an impulse that's hard to stop once started.
Your friend needs professional treatment. Please tell a trusted adult who may help her. Here are some facts:
One out of 12 teens deliberately hurt themselves with cutting, predominantly, and burning
In the United States, one in every 200 teens from 13-19 are self harming
70% are girls and girls as young as nine years old have started cutting
It takes a complex treatment plan that may take years to work
Your friend wants and needs your love and acceptance. Please continue to smile at her and in-clude her in your activities.
Help get her adult help-no matter what
Take it seriously
Help stop others from bullying her by not talking/ gossiping about her at all \
Think it's a passing phase
Accuse her of attention seeking
Please take care of yourself, though, by not talking about her suicidal thoughts and cutting any-more. That's the most helpful attention you can give her.
You may start letting her know that you still care by saying, in a gentle way, that she needs to have more help than you and other friends can provide.
You've placed a huge burden on your shoulders that can't stay there. It's a burden meant for adults and professionals to handle. Don't feel guilty that you need to give that burden away for your own emotional health. Please tell a trusted adult at your school, home, and church today.
Thank you for writing. We invite others who have experienced this situation to share your stories with us.
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri
Rhonda Orr is the president and founder of the Prescott-based Rhonda's STOP BULLYING Foundation for Girls.
Dr. Cheri L. McDonald, PhD, LMFT, is a crime-victim specialist. Send your anonymous ques-tions to Rhonda@rhondastopbullying.org.