DEAR HARRIETTE: I have noticed one of my friends acting off and not herself lately. She has lost over 15 pounds in the last two months and is always crying. My friends and I have been worried and do not know how to approach her because she is so sensitive and does not listen to anything we say. Should we say something to her parents? Or how do you suggest we approach her directly? -- Worried Friend, Phoenix
DEAR WORRIED FRIEND: You have every reason to be worried about your friend’s well-being. It is not normal for a person to lose so much weight so quickly, nor to be so consistently emotional. Before going to her parents, try talking to your friend. You can say upfront how much you care about her and want her to be happy and healthy. Tell her you have noticed that she cries a lot and you are wondering if anything happened to make her sad. Be still and listen to see if she will share what’s going on.
As far as the weight goes, tread even more carefully. Invite her out to eat with you. Notice if she eats at all. Then go for it and tell her that you have noticed that she has lost a lot of weight. Ask if she is feeling OK and if she knows why she is losing so rapidly. If your friend is unwilling to discuss any of her issues and seems to be in denial, the next step is her parents.
When you go to them, try to make the meeting face-to-face. Be upfront and tell them about your worries. Explain that you know how sensitive their daughter is so you don’t want to hurt her feelings, but you would feel irresponsible if you didn’t say anything to her parents.