Tuesday, November 3, 2015

On a girl who took her own life

This week, we’ve decided to suspend our normal advice column format in favor of thoughts on a Prescott girl who committed suicide. Your letters return next week. Here is mine. -Rhonda

As my husband and I kneeled down to say a prayer at nighttime together, part of our normal routine, I suddenly started to sob. This wasn’t just a few tears trickling down my cheeks. It was a guttural bawl and something I haven’t experienced in a long while.

Earlier in the day, I found out that a young girl in our community had committed suicide. As the president and founder of our nonprofit foundation, Rhonda’s STOP BULLYING Foundation for Girls, I read, listen, speak, teach and write about suicide and other problems plaguing our young girls daily. My heart is not hardened to it, but it is so common that I don’t usually cry.

This suicide hit too close to home. 

“Why, why, why?” I kept asking myself. First, because a beautiful young daughter of God is gone before her life and dreams could blossom. Then I was distraught because I heard whisperings of cyberbullying and that someone said the all-too-common phrase (like a mom telling her child to go brush their teeth), “Why don’t you just kill yourself?”

By the end of the day, I felt I had to be strong around all the other girls who knew her, some knowing her as a best friend.  

“Strong” is a powerful feeling when it’s genuine and firmly won. But when it’s a façade it’s the worst and most empty feeling of all, and to be told, as bullying and abuse victims often are, “be strong” doesn’t help.

It’s said with every good intention. Friends and family don’t know what to say when their loved ones are hurting in every cell of their body.

I cried that night because our foundation’s mission is to help girls with our Triangle of Triumph and take them through their journey from victim (or preventing victimhood) to survivor to becoming a confident, civil, courageous, creative leader who exudes elegant carriage. 

Going from victim to survivor to leader is a process, though. As a victim, girls need to grieve their losses…losses of friends, family, reputation, privacy, and truth. There are specific baby steps we teach our girls to help them not stay a victim. 

Girls then need to move to being a survivor. That’s where the real journey is. That’s where a girl learns to define herself before others do.

Once a girl feels comfortable about herself and she can love others even when she’s not loved back … she is ready to stop being a people-pleaser and start being a faith-filled leader.

My tears were for this girl, who we couldn’t help, couldn’t comfort, couldn’t teach, couldn’t help her find hope and couldn’t finish her life feeling her worth as a loved daughter of a loving Father in Heaven. 

We wish her, and all young girls who have gone too early, to rest in peace and love. May her family be comforted. May the bullies who have harmed her with weapons of words, if this is true, realize bullying is a crime and get help.

Parents—suicide remains the leading cause of death of children under 14. Never, ever dismiss anyone who says they want to kill themselves. Listen, stay with them, and get professional help.
If you have problems, if you’re a victim of bullying or abuse, please contact us at anytime at rhonda@rhondastopbullying.org or 928-515-9996. If you’d like us to address your problem in the newspaper, send us a letter. You don’t have to give your name.

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