An Oregon man walking across the country to raise awareness of bullying — his son took his own life because of bullying— died when he was hit by a truck in eastern Colorado.Joe Bell, 48, of La Grande, Ore., was killed by a semi truck as he walked along the shoulder of U.S. 40 about 20 miles northwest of Kit Carson. He died at the scene about 5:10 p.m. Wednesday.The driver of the truck, of Bryan, Texas, who was not injured, was cited for careless driving resulting in death.
Joe Bell's son committed suicide because he was bullied for being gay.
Jadin Bell was a 15-year-old boy who "had a gift" for uplifting people's spirits--he would "[W]alk into a room and say a couple quick words and everybody would just forget about their problems and smile." After being bullied relentlessly in school and on the internet, he hung himself on a playground structure, and later died in the hospital. He had been the victim of "intense bullying" because he was "different, and they tend to pick on the different ones."
"My son didn't choose to be gay. My son was different at a very young age. He told his family he was gay because he knew they would accept him. I hugged him and kissed him on the cheek every day. I was proud of him."After Jadin died, Joe decided to walk across country for two years to speak about bullying and to raise awareness "to anyone who would listen", and planned on averaging 15 to 25 miles a day. He said this before he set out:
“When a child is bullied there are usually a lot [of] witnesses," Bell, who resigned from his job at Boise Cascade in embark [sic] on the walk, told the La Grande Observer. "Not doing anything is not acceptable. [Those who watch and do nothing] are just as guilty. They are saying that it is acceptable."His last speaking engagement was in Denver on August 20th. He blogged this uplifting message on August 26th:
"Amy and I are in Denver together, putting some very exciting things together! Amy and I have a lunch date with Second Wind Fund today at 1 o'clock. We will collaborate on the best ways to combat suicide. Second Wind Fund is a non profit organization that we have come across during my walk through Denver, Colorado. We plan on working together for the better good across the country supporting each other and getting our messages out."Bullying, and "bullycide," or a suicide as a result of bullying, has increased 50 percent in the last 30 years. It is one of the leading causes of death among children under the age of 14.
Bullying can include various types of behavior from physical attacks, to destroying one's personal property or clothing, verbal abuse, starting rumors, name calling, verbal attacks online as well as other forms of cyberbullying. For teens and children who feel they are being bullied, it is important to address the matter with a parent or teacher right away. It may feel like you are telling on someone for doing something wrong, and that admission might get you in trouble with the bully later. However, this is not the case. In the majority of cases when a bully is reported, the bullying stops because the bully is faced with dire repercussions or they are sent away to a juvenile detention center.Blessings to Joe's family and friends, and to the anti-bullying and gay communities who have lost a true advocate and champion.
If you want to show some love to his cause, go here:
Facebook Page: Joe's Walk For Change
Joe's Website, Joe's Walk For Change, devoted to raising money for spreading the massage of anti-hate and anti-bullying.
We can all do more to end the cycle of violence and bullying. Talk to your kids and grandkids, and tell them bullying--in any form--isn't acceptable. Encourage them to be a force for peace.