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Sun, Feb. 23

Dear Rhonda & Dr. Cheri: Bully Fatigue

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

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

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My cousin committed suicide last month and I can’t understand what happened. She was only 11.

Not only was she bullied for five years by three of the meanest girls ever, but she was teased all her life for being overweight.

My cousin sobbed for days and couldn’t go to school, because she didn’t think anyone cared. Her mom reported it, but nothing happened for her. Her mom said the principal, the nurse and her teacher seemed kind of “ho-hum” about it.

Her mom took her to counseling but it didn’t stop. The bullies were always playing mind-games with her, saying they were her friends and then being horrible. One peed in a drink they gave her.

I’m so angry, and I can’t stop crying. What could have been done?


Can’t Take It

Dear Cousin,

Our deepest sympathies go to you and your dear family.

Suicide rates have increased in every state in the United States (except Nevada) by 6% to 58%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For several years, suicide has become a common tragedy, especially with girls ages 10 to 14. We receive daily global “bully alerts” from Google that report a suicide almost daily (mostly 11- and 12-year-old girls). Many stories of suicides and bullying can be found there.

Since bullying has become the norm, “Bully Fatigue” has caused our nation to downplay the problem. Many believe that bullying can’t be that bad anymore.

Bully Fatigue, unfortunately means people are tired of hearing about the subject. This phenomenon is happening all over the country. Inappropriate anger is also a result of Bully Fatigue. Victim-shaming has become common again.

You may need to seek professional help to manage the intensity of your feelings. However, we believe your reaction is noble and we understand your pain. The why of things that happened are less important than promoting healthy relationships. Our Triangle of Triumph™ may help: Victim — Survivor — Leader.

1) Victim: Grieve and choose not stay a victim.

2) Survivor: Define yourself with our 5Cs — Civility, Confidence, Courage, Creativity, and Communication.

3) Leader: Lead yourself and be an example to others.

If we continue to accept bullying as the new norm, it will never change. Bullying has increased, and now it’s not uncommon for children to commit suicide. We cannot become so accustomed to bullying and suicides that suicide also becomes the new norm. Bully Fatigue is real and may be handled with more communication about the truth. Adults and young parents need to teach civility, with our definition: be caring, considerate, and courteous, starting with the example of adults first.


Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Rhonda Orr is the president and founder of Rhonda’s STOP BULLYING Foundation. Dr. Cheri L. McDonald, PhD, LMFT, is a crime-victim specialist and author. Send questions to, and listen to Rhonda’s podcast at

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