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.
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.
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.
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.