Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bullying Drives Gay Teen to Hang Himself in Schoolyard

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PORTLAND, Ore. – After KATU's coverage of a cluster of seven teen suicides in the town of Battle Ground, the discussion about suicide has branched out to deal with the issue in communities across the area.

In the town of La Grande, Ore. two children in the last three months were intent on ending their own lives. A 16-year-old girl killed herself in October and now there’s a 15-year-old boy who is not expected to live after hanging himself.

His family said he was the target of bullying.

Through Skype on Monday, Bud Hill shared what he admires about Jadin Bell, the son of a family friend who is so close that Hill considers Jadin his nephew.

"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.

Dozens of people came together last week in La Grande in a vigil for Jadin, trying to understand what drove him to despair nine days ago.

He came to the playground of Central Elementary School in La Grande. He climbed on a play structure and hanged himself. Someone passing by tried to rescue him. He was brought to Portland and Doernbecher Children's Hospital where he was put on life support.

Hill says Jadin was pushed to suicide after being bullied in person and on the Internet for being gay.

"He was different, and they tend to pick on the different ones," Hill said.

Hill says Jadin asked his parents to home school him. He feared turning in the bullies would make things worse. But he had found the courage, recently.

The school district says it was in the process of investigating when Jadin tried to end his life. At Doernbecher, doctors detected little brain activity and Jadin was removed from life support over the weekend.

His family is by his side.

"It's tough enough to deal with what you know is coming up, but the waiting is not good," Hill said.

The superintendent in La Grande says everyone there is heartbroken. He's asked a mental health agency to look at how the school deals with these issues to see if there’s a better way to handle it.

Hill is vowing to start a new organization in Jadin's honor to tackle these issues.

It was a KATU On Your Side Investigation into the two most recent suicides in Battle Ground that sparked this local conversation about teen suicide.


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