Will these tragedies never end?
On January 19, Jadin Bell, a sophomore at La Grande High School in Oregon, went to his local elementary school and tried to commit suicide by hanging himself from playground equipment.
Can you imagine how he must have been feeling, to even consider such an action?
A passerby found the teen there, and Jadin was rushed to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland and put on life support, where he was monitored for the next couple days. Last weekend, when doctors found little brain activity, his family decided to take him off life support.
The town of La Grande has seen two such suicides in the last three months. Last October, a 16-year-old girl killed herself, and now there’s Jadin Bell.
His family is convinced that the youngster was driven to take his own life because he was bullied both in person and on the internet for being gay. Apparently, Jadin had asked his parents to home school him because he was afraid that he would make things worse for himself if he turned in the bullies; officials at his school say they were in the process of investigating when Jadin chose to end his life.
The Daily Mail reports:
‘He was different, and they tend to pick on the different ones,’ family friend Bud Hill told KOMO News.
‘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,’ Hill added. ‘He just had a gift.’
Hundreds of students had turned out to honor Bell, a sophomore at La Grande High School, at a vigil last week while he was still fighting for his life in the hospital.
‘Jadin is one of the best people I have ever met,’ LHS junior Frankie Benitez told the La Grande Observer. ‘He makes everyone around him feel good all the time.’
His mother told the Observer that she appreciated the outpouring of support.
‘We always knew that Jadin is a special person,’ she said. ‘Now everyone knows.’
That’s the number of children that miss school every day in the U.S. out of fear of being bullied. And a growing number of these commit suicide.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.
One of the worst examples of refusal to face reality came a few years ago in the Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota. After nine student suicides in one year, the superintendent first declared that the district was not at fault.
Months later, following a lawsuit, the Anoka-Hennepin School Board voted to repeal a long-held policy that prohibited discussion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the classroom and replaced it with a policy that directed district staff to “affirm the dignity and self-worth of all students,” including those who are LGBT.
As a high school teacher, I am both saddened and outraged by the continuing number of teenage suicides that occur after incidents of bullying. I didn’t receive any official anti-bullying training in my education classes, but I have to handle related incidents almost every day. We teachers must be proactive in dealing with bullying immediately.
But it’s not only teachers: schools, parents, communities, must all come together to talk about teenage bullying and suicide. We must not be afraid to talk about it, and we must not be afraid to denounce bullying when we see it.
The Daily Mail reports that Jadin’s mother had this message for her son’s bullies:
The next time you are thinking of being unkind to someone, think to yourself, “If that person was a member of your family, would you want them treated like that?” Don’t treat them like that.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, please remember that there is help.
The following national hotlines are free and confidential, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:
The Trevor Project
24/7 Suicide Hotline for GLBTQI Youth
USA National Suicide Prevention Hotline
24/7, Free & Confidential
Related Care2 Coverage
Photo Credit: screenshot from KATU.com video