The small town of La Grande, Oregon, has seen its share of tragedy in recent months. In October, a 16-year-old girl committed suicide. And now, a 15-year-old boy has joined her.
A family friend remembers Jadin Bell as somebody who could lighten up a room with his personality:
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.A classmate has similar memories:
Jadin is one of the best people I have ever met. He makes everyone around him feel good all the time. Jadin always remembers people no matter what. 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.Another family friend also remembers:
He is amazingly sensitive. If he saw a wounded butterfly [as a child] he wanted to heal it ... He is an amazing young man who is smart and very social; he has a persona and a presence that you want to be a part of.But Jadin also suffered a great deal. He was openly gay, and as many--diarist included--can attest to, being gay in a small town is not an easy experience. Especially at the age of fifteen. A member of the La Grande High School cheerleading team, Jadin was perceived by some as "different." His sensitivity and openness about his sexuality made him a target for the predators in his school. And so, the sweet boy who cheered everybody up was bullied to death.
The anti-gay bullying became far too much to bear. Jadin experienced it in person and online--it was cruel and pervasive. It got so bad that he asked his parents to home-school him. Although he feared that turning in the bullies to school administration would make matters worse, he finally did it. The school district now says that it was in the process of investigating the matter when Jadin took his own life.
Nine days ago, Jadin went to the Central Elementary School playground, climbed a tall play structure, and hanged himself. A passerby tried to rescue him, but it was too late. He was taken to a Portland hospital and placed on life support, but over the weekend he was removed from life support.
Last Wednesday, a vigil was organized by Jadin's classmates, which was attended by 200 people. At the vigil, his mother said:
We always knew that Jadin is a special person. Now everyone knows.Indeed.
We need to continue to resist the notion that bullying is some sort of rite of passage. Bullying is killing our children, whether they are gay or "different" in other ways.
Rest in peace, Jadin.