Saturday, February 9, 2013

Another gay teen suicide

It happened January 19th. A loving young man named Jaden Bell hung himself in La Grande, Oregon. On a playground. He was 15.

I haven't been able to find that much information on Jaden. I read an article about a candlelight vigil attended by over 200 before he was taken off of life support. Many fellow high school students described him as loving and compassionate.

There was also talk of Jaden being bullied. One article said that he had begged his parents to allow him to be home schooled and that he had recently asked school administrators for help.

I keep thinking of how much this world needs another loving and compassionate person.

From Jaden's mother: “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.” 

There is so much unkindness in this world. 

I have written about bullying and hatred and being kind. This morning, as I think about Jaden  walking to that playground, I don't know what else to write.

Well, maybe just some reminders:

We have the power to speak out against hatred and bullying.

We have the power to speak out against hate speech, regardless of who it is coming from.

We have the power to love one another.

Thank you for reading. Think about Jaden today.


  1. Such a beautiful boy. So horrible that people feel so alone and unsupported that they resort to suicide.

    One of our gay teachers told us in a staff meeting that while it's important to have talks about being gay, it's more important to normalize it than to necessarily make it "an issue." She gave an example of how during math she might give a problem, "Jenna's two Dads each give her 5 gumdrops. How many gumdrops does she have?"

    I found this advice revolutionary and in my seven years of teaching, I've seen a huge difference in kids' reactions. Initially you'd get a few kids saying, "Wait. Two DADS?" Now, they don't even bat an eye. It's just a given.

    This teacher said she's had students come back to her years later and tell her they were gay and that those small things she did in class made such a difference to them and made them feel normal.

    I wish every child could get those messages.

    1. That is really cool that not only did the teacher do that, but the school let them. They'd get fired in a lot of schools, sadly. There is hope though - I live in rural VA and there are LOTS of out gay kids in our rural school. It's a consolidated school for the whole county, so it is huge, not your typical rural school (if there are any of those anymore).

    2. Thanks for sharing this Katrina. There are so many good things happening that it breaks my heart even more when I read about young people like Jaden.

  2. This breaks my heart.

    Years ago, in Chicago, I was director of the g/l/b/t youth group. We existed because gay teens are statistically more likely to commit suicide. They needed a safe space to be themselves, to feel valued.

    All these years later, these safe spaces are still necessary, aren't they?

    When people question why same-sex marriage should be legal. Why gay couples should be able to adopt, this is why. When gays and lesbians are treated equally, young people see themselves as equal, as valid, as worthy. So much more to do.

    1. Good morning JL! Thank you for posting this. I am glad that you are on this path with us!

  3. I am so sad that this type of bullying is still occurring. Prayers to Jaden's family.