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Sat, Sept. 21

Dear Rhonda & Dr. Cheri: J/K does not make it OK

Rhonda Orr and Dr. Cheri L. McDonald, PhD, LMFT

Rhonda Orr and Dr. Cheri L. McDonald, PhD, LMFT

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

We told a friend to kill herself on Facebook. She has another creep boyfriend. We’re tired of her whining and depression.

Our friends don’t want to hang with her. We listen to her cry, but it’s hard to be friends with her.

Her mom took her off Facebook, and took her phone. She’s mad at us — but begs us to be her friends.

We said, “Go kill yourself” before on Facebook. We were kidding then, too. She’s so sensitive. We don’t want to be friends with her anymore.

Signed,

Joking Friends

Dear Friends,

Hand-write a genuine apology from all of you, and show her parents, too. That would be the kindest thing to do.

Don’t write you were “just kidding.” J/K in any form (like “You’re so sensitive” and “I’m just saying” …) means you’re excusing yourselves from dangerous language and you’re dismissing her.

Suicide is no joke. Suicide rates have been rising according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research: 45,000 Americans 10 or older die by suicide each year and it’s growing. “Suicide is a leading cause of death for Americans — it’s a tragedy for families and communities across the country,” CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, M.D., said.

It’s not okay to say to anyone, “You should kill yourself,” even as a joke. We’re sure you have more goodness than that.

Remember the Golden Rule: Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. Nothing is funny, if it isn’t funny to the person you’re talking to.

It’s difficult to be friends with someone who’s depressed. Blame doesn’t matter. Compassion is what is absolutely needed in this situation.

Think about this:

Emotional pain can be worse than physical pain. If you punched her, it might cause her to bleed, but telling her to “go kill herself” creates scars forever. It means her life isn’t worth living. “Just kidding” means you’re not taking responsibility for punching her heart.

Teasing is a part of growing up. Telling someone their life is meaningless is aggressive and troubling.

When communication is done by social media, only the words written are received. The receiving person can’t see your body language or tone-of-voice matching your true meaning. Only 7 percent of communication is words. Phrases then come across more harshly and literally than teasing.

Writing us means you’re looking for a better solution than teasing and we applaud that. Set boundaries for your friend before you “un-friend” her. You can be a great example to all your friends and stop “joking” damage.

Signed,

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Rhonda Orr is the president and founder of the Prescott-based Rhonda’s STOP BULLYING Foundation. Dr. Cheri L. McDonald, PhD, LMFT, is a crime-victim specialist. Send your anonymous questions to Rhonda@rhondastopbullying.org. Join our 100th podcast celebration on Tuesday, Dec. 18 at BullyingLifeandStuff.com

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