Bullied Gay Oregon Student, 15, Hangs Himself
Family members of a gay teen in La Grande, Ore., who tried to hang himself at an elementary school playground, say he was the victim of severe anti-gay bullying, local ABC affiliate KOMO reports.
Jadin Bell, 15, attempted suicide by climbing on a playground structure and hanging himself. A witness tried to rescue the sophomore high school student. He was rushed to the hospital and put on life support. But last weekend, doctors said they saw little brain activity and Bell was removed from life support. He is not expected to live.
Bell’s family say that the La Grande High School student was the victim of bullying, both in person and online.
"He was different, and they tend to pick on the different ones," Bud Hill, a family spokesperson who said he was Bell’s uncle told the news station. "If someone was down and out he would walk into a room and say a couple quick words and everybody would just forget about their problems and smile. He just had a gift."
Hill said he plans on starting an organization in Bell’s honor to fight local bullying.
The harassment became so intense that, the TV stations reports, Bell had asked his parents to homeschool him. Nevertheless, he found the courage to continue to attend the high school.
The La Grande, Ore., school district claims it was in the process of investigating Bell’s accusations of bullying when the teen hanged himself. The superintendent described the students and faculty as devastated by the incident and has asked a mental health agency to look at how schools deal with similar issues.
The La Grande Observer reported that nearly 200 people, including family, friends and classmates, attended a vigil for Bell, who had a passion for cheerleading, last week. "We are overwhelmed. We are very thankful for all of the support," Hill told the newspaper.
"Jadin is one of the best people I have ever met. He makes everyone around him feel good all the time," Frankie Benitez, a junior at the high school, said. "Jadin always remembers people no matter what," he continued. "If I felt bad, I would hang out with him and he would say something small like, ’I love your sweater.’ He notices things you didn’t think anyone notices."
"He is amazingly sensitive. If he saw a wounded butterfly, he wanted to heal it,’’ said Jody Bullock, one of Bell’s closest friends. "He is an amazing young man who is smart and very social."
The (Portland) Oregonian reported that Bell was openly gay to his classmates. One of his teachers, Kevin Cahill, told the paper that Bell had many friends and was often seen walking down the hallway laughing.
The paper also noted Bell’s appearance. The teen had dyed-green hair, unusual in conservative eastern Oregon, which differs markedly from the better-known city of Portland in its politics and social mores. Even so, the climate in La Grande is purportedly relatively relaxed; it is difficult by Eastern Oregon University.
"Being 15 and gay in northeast Oregon is not optimum," Cahill told the Oregonian. "You are going to develop calluses, or find other ways to cope."