Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,       

My friend and I wrote on another friend’s Facebook that she should just go and kill herself. She always finds loser guys and then they treat her badly and so she comes to us soooooooo depressed.

We listen all the time and we were just trying to lighten her up.  

We were just kidding when we put it on her Facebook and we even said “j/k.” She’s our friend and we have said this before about a lot of things and she never got mad.

She told her mom who took her phone away and took her off Facebook. Now she’s mad at us?! She knows she’s our friend!!!


Dear j/k,

Please write her an apology letter (all of you) on hard copy paper and bring it to her home when her parents are there.  Apologize again to her in front of her parents. Do not say you were kidding. That suggests you are excusing yourselves from very dangerous language.

A twelve –year-old girl in Florida committed suicide because of that very same language. It is abhorrent to use phrases like “You should just go kill yourself” as a joke.  We’re sure you are better than that.

It has become all too common in our society to say things that are rude, nasty, mean, hateful and uncaring. Then to add insult to injury, kids follow those cruel statements with “j/k” or “just kidding” or “I’m just saying.”

It’s a sneaky and distorted way of not owning up to mean comments, suggestions and gossip. Using “j/k” and similar phrases is a form of what’s called “passive-aggressive” behavior. Sometimes teens really do say what they want to say and mean it. We’re pretty sure that’s not you.

It’s like punching someone in their face and then deciding that you aren’t really responsible for the pain. In truth, the person speaking or writing is responsible for causing emotional pain.

Teasing is a natural part of growing up. However, telling another human being that their life is unworthy, meaningless, or has no value is aggressive and troubling behavior.

When communication is done by email, text or with any social media, only the words that are actually written are received. The receiving person doesn’t have the benefit of seeing the body language or tone of voice to match your true meaning. Only 7% of your communication is your words. Those types of phrases then come across more harshly and can be taken as literally, rather than your intended “teasing.”

When you’re cruel and then say, “Can’t you take a joke” or “I didn’t really mean it,” that doesn’t stop the car wreck you caused.

You may be using pride to cover your statement so you can keep a “nice person” image.

Your friend deserves respect. Set new healthy boundaries for your friendship and try to experience how this situation might feel if it happened to you one too many times.

We are hyper-aware of the alarming self-harm and suicide rates that keep rising and happening to younger and younger girls. We know you can be a good example of leading others starting with your own healthy leadership skills.      

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

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