Dear Rhonda & Dr. Cheri: Overweight teen is bullied, depressed, and suicidal
Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
Kids at my school who are depressed and overweight get bullied.
My friend is obese since she got depression. She won’t tell me if she’s taking anti-depressants. Anyone who lets other kids know they’re on meds get bullied. She won’t trust me.
Bullies are calling her skanky names like “slut” and stuff. They say, “You’re fat and ugly.” She’s draining me.
I looked at her texts while she was sleeping (don’t judge), and I saw pretty bad messages about how she doesn’t deserve to be on this planet. They tell her to kill herself.
She texted she wasn’t sticking around anymore and they made fun of that.
She saw me looking at her phone and went crazy.
Then she started giving me her “skinny clothes.” I told her to stop. She just glared at me.
You’re a good friend. Share with her that you, and many others, love her, and because of that, you cannot not care and must help, which you are doing.
It’s good you’re noticing severe changes in your friend like giving her clothes away. She’s signaling that she’s a danger to herself.
When your friend isn’t able to live up to her peers’ expectations (including yours), she starts the cycle of depressive thinking, which leads her to disordered eating binges. They will, in turn, spur on broader behavioral and emotional problems that make her a target for bullying.
Depressive thinking can often spiral down so far that she doesn’t see or feel a way out of the situation. Suicidal ideation can easily set in because your friend feels her world is out of her control.
The fact that you were courageous enough to act on a prompting that your best friend needs immediate attention overpowers her privacy. Danger signs:
1) Change in attitude, isolation, eating habits, giving things away, depression, an acceptance of bullying, secrecy, and a worsened sense of self-worth.
2) A vicious pattern of binge eating, becoming more depressed, accepting the bullying, and her permanent solution of death.
• If you talk about suicide, kids will get thoughts in their head that it’s okay;
• You can just “get over” hopelessness, anxiety, sadness, and anger;
• All medications for depression are bad;
• It’s just for attention.
“Disordered eating was significantly associated with bullying by peers,” researchers wrote in JAMA Psychiatry. JAMA Psychiatry is a monthly, peer-reviewed medical journal published by the American Medical Association.
Kids and parents – keep this number handy: 1-800-273-8255, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Suicide is the second leading cause of deaths nationwide for teens and young adults.
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri
Rhonda Orr is the president of Rhonda’s STOP BULLYING Foundation and host of a podcast at BullyingLifeAndStuff.com. Dr. Cheri L. McDonald, PhD, LMFT, is a crime-victim specialist. Write them at Rhonda@rhondastopbullying.org.