What is my duty to intervene with anorexic stranger?
March 14, 2010 8:45 PM Subscribe
I went to high school with a girl who I came across on facebook. She's clearly got an eating disorder. What on earth do I do?
posted by anonymous to human relations (50 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I went to a big high school - over 6000 kids - so while I sort of recall this woman, I don't know that our paths ever crossed. From what I can glean from my yearbook, she was a cheerleader, and in the National and foreign-language honors societies. I doubt she'd know me, even by name; I flew under the radar and our activities didn't overlap.
I came across her profile on facebook today, via a friend-of-a-friend, and wow. She is anorexic. And I don't mean, wow, she's skinny. She looks like Karen Carpenter in the late stages of anorexia, or a concentration camp victim. She's going about her life/career/etc. it seems, at least according to the pictures, and it is so terrifying to see her clothes just hanging off of her and her face sunken and mostly eyesockets. Like many women my age, I have known more than one person who suffered from anorexia, and one person who succumbed to the disease. I know that anorexics can be functional up to a point, and that seems to be where she is.
I have no idea what to do. I can't just friend her, and say, "Hey! We went to high school together twelve years ago and I just found your profile, and you need some help! Go Bulldogs!" I briefly considered sending an anonymous note to her workplace, a large law firm, saying that she had an eating disorder and if someone did not intervene she was going to die. Of course, that's a gross invasion of her privacy.
So what do I do here? If she is not getting help, she is going to die. If I don't say anything and she dies, am I complicit in her death? If I were to say something, who would I say it to? What on earth would I say? My instinct, in this situation, is patently useless.