LA GRANDE, Ore. — A 15-year-old teen has been taken off life support and is in critical condition after hanging himself over what family members describe as anti-gay bullying.
Jadin Bell of La Grande, Ore., went to the playground of Central Elementary School on Jan. 19, climbed on a play structure and hanged himself. He was brought to Portland’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital where he was placed on life support.
Jadin, who was not expected to live, was taken off life support over the weekend, reported KATU-TV. As of Tuesday morning, Jadin remained in critical condition.
His family said he was the target of bullying.
Bud Hill, a close family friend, who Jadin refers to as his uncle, said he belives Jadin was pushed to suicide after being bullied in person and on the Internet because he is gay.
“He was different, and they tend to pick on the different ones,” Hill told KATU-TV.
Hill says Jadin asked his parents to home school him, because he feared turning in the bullies would make things worse.
The school district said it was in the process of investigating when Jadin tried to end his life.
On Saturday, an estimated 200 people, the majority of whom were LHS students, attended a vigil for Jadin, reported the La Grande Observer.
Numerous friends and classmates spoke about Jadin in heartfelt tones, painting a portrait of a young man who has an uncommon way of lifting the spirits of others.
Jody Bullock, a close family friend, described Jadin as a gentle, caring person, one who has been this way since childhood.
“He is amazingly sensitive,” said Bullock.
Bullock runs an adult assisted living home for seniors. She said Jadin came over frequently and always made a point of saying hello to her residents and talking with them. Bullock said it is unusual for young people to do this, noting that often young people are afraid of seniors.
Candy Blackman, an La Grande High School parent who attended Satuday’s vigil, offered offered a similar perspective.
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“He always gives a compliment to everybody the first time he meets them,” Blackman said. “He always has a smile on his face.”
Jadin is a member of the LHS cheerleading team, and, Blackman said, cheerleading fits his outgoing, colorful personality. “Cheerleading is his passion,” Blackman said.
Jadin’s mother, Lola Lathrop, told KATU-TV she hopes that this tragedy will make people thing twice about the way they treat people.
“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,” Lathrop said.
According to a hospital spokesperson, Bell’s family is not currently interested in speaking to the press; they remain by Jadin’s side.
Hill said the family is “overwhelmed” and “very thankful for all of the support.”
Friends have set up a Facebook page in support of Jadin.
Developing story, check back for updates.
Editor’s Note: If you or a young person you know is LGBT and thinking about suicide, please call The Trevor Project‘s Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386. For adults over 24, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-866-273-8255.