In what seems to be a horrible and growing trend, Canadian teenager Amanda Todd killed herself after being bullied online for more than a year.
Unfortunately, Todd is just the latest in a growing list of bullied teenagers that includes 18-year-old Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi, who killed himself after being bullied and humiliated for his sexual orientation; 15-year-old Irish exchange student Phoebe Prince, who hanged herself after repeatedly being called a "slut;" and 13-year-old Hope Witsell, who committed suicide after topless photos she took of herself for a crush started circulating around her school.
And there's a growing body of evidence that shows bullying doesn't always end when middle or high school does. Adult and workplace bullying may not be as well known as cyberbullying, child, or teenage bullying, but it's a problem that's estimated to afflict 37 percent of adult Americans.
If you are or someone you know is being bullied, you don't have to suffer in silence, says Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist. In honor of National Bullying Awareness Month, she offers five tips to help you fight back:
1. Assess the situation. If this is at work, might you need to make a formal complaint? Might there be legal involvement needed, like a protective order? If this is college, might you need a room switch? Make a list of options, and use supports that are in place to help you.
2. Reach out to allies. Are there trusted friends or coworkers that you can confide in? Are there family members who are good at listening? Are there mutual friends who can have your back as you plan to stand up to yourself? Assemble your army; there is strength in numbers.
3. Make a plan. Take time to determine the best course of action. If you are lodging a complaint or confronting the person, rally your defenses, choose your words carefully, and plan the best time to take action. The better prepared you are, the more of effective your action will be.
4. Remember your strengths. Dig deep to make a list of the things you like about yourself, and remind yourself of them like a mantra. Building up your emotional defenses will help you remember why you deserve better and keep you being assertive.
5. Nourish yourself. Reduce your stress by eating well, getting enough sleep, and engaging in activities that are good for you. From listening to music to journaling to exercise to yoga to losing yourself in a good book, you can reduce the effects that bullies have by putting yourself first.