In Wake Of Gay Son’s Suicide, Father Walks Across America Promoting Anti-Bullying Programs

Gay_Teen_Suicide-Walk.JPEG-_t640The father of Jadin Bell, the gay high school sophomore that hung himself in January after enduring years of bullying, has vowed to spread a message of hope and acceptance for other teens by walking across America.

Jadin, 15, had reported homophobic bullying to a school counselor in the past, but like so many teens in America, was left to fend for himself. Without a proper support system at La Grande High School in La Grande, Orgeon, the teen resorted to suicide and died after a month of living on life support.

In the wake of his son’s death, Joe Bell has officially resigned from his job to walk 5,000 miles across America—a trip that will take two years—on a speaking tour, visiting schools and emphasizing the importance of combating bullying in schools. “It will be a healing process for him,” says Bud Hill, co-founder of Bell’s Faces For Change foundation.

But Bell’s journey will serve more than one purpose. After undergoing major back surgery that resulted in having two artificial knees in 2010, he’s met his own share of pessimists. “They tell me, ‘You can’t do that’,” he says, but accompanied by the memory of his late son, Bell believes he’ll be the first person to walk across the United States with two artificial knees.

[photo: The Columbian]

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  • Sohobod

    Is it that there’s not the same degree of bullying in the UK, or is it that we just don’t hear about it over here?

  • tardis


    American public schools, or any place that attracts groups of teenagers in the United States, is a vehicle that spells disaster. Teens, quite frankly, feed on and influence each other’s emotions very easily, and if in packs, for lack of a better term, they’ll pick on the weaker kids, usually for a group laugh. They’re not really thinking about the implications of what they’re doing or who they’re doing it to.

    Aside from that, school administrators don’t really stress the notion of tolerance or respect, and then you have parents that aren’t being parents, so in the end, it’s just a cycle of never-ending finger-pointing factors.

  • Ajai

    It must be the latter, Sohobod, at least for you. Google ‘antigay bullying in the UK,’ and see what you find. I did, it’s pretty sad.

  • Ajai

    My condolences, Mr. Bell. Spread the word, and godspeed. With support, from Oregon.

  • hephaestion

    God bless Joe Bell. People like him give me hope. Thank you, Mr. Bell.

  • jeff4justice

    Nice sentiment but why does every parent of a bullied teen who commits suicide have to start an entirely new nonprofit to ask for donations whether than work with existing LGBT groups since there are already so many working on youth/bullying issues?

    Do they not think to ask, are the existing groups just too unwelcoming, or do they not want to share some of that 6-figiure LGBT mega group money.

  • jkb

    @Sohobod: I recently read a story about gay and lesbian teachers in Ireland who are bullied daily for their sexuality.


    Good for you man!. I cannot say! but I hope you excepted your son like my children excepted me!. Six in all. It`s break my heart to hear something like that happen to you. Love and courage AdamHomo

  • hudson

    @jeff4justice: Jeff, Jeff, Jeff, can’t we just be f’ing happy someone is doing something good? Jeez.

  • brent

    If you want to do something productive on this subject, the thing to do is support school choice. Give kids and there parents anoption to the homophobic public schools. Unfortuntately the democrats do not support school choice, they want to force all kids into a school system that has shown itself over and over again unable to handle homophobia. There will not be change until gay democrats start demanding that there party support school choice, and stop taking orders from the teachers union.

  • bigomega73

    @Sohobod: I grew up going to both British schools and American schools and I can attest that American schools are much much worse as far as bullying goes. The cliques and segregation of different social groups in US schools is extreme compared to British schools. Growing up in Britain I thought the movie Heathers was a parody of American high school…until I attended one. Not a single person spoke to me for the first two months because I dressed in the British fashion, unlike anyone else. When I finally made friends with someone they told me they didn’t want to speak to me because I was “weird”. And they’d never even spoken to me!!! Just because the way I dressed was different (although the US tends to trail the UK in fashion trends so they ended up wearing what I was wearing by the time I graduated). In Britain I had a very large group of friends and was considered very popular in school. Not so in the US, simply because I refused to conform. The US has got a huge problem with bullying, not just of gay students but of anyone that doesn’t fit in, and it seems that no one wants to actually deal with it because it would require us all to change our actions and thoughts. But until then you’re going to continues to see mass shootings in schools because when people are isolated without friends to help them deal with life’s issues, they lose hope. And people without hope are capable of any atrocity you can think of. We need to stop accepting the easy excuses that don’t require action on our part, like saying tis mental illness (of COURSE it’s mental illness! Years upon years of physical and mental abuse by your peers would drive anyone crazy!) or violent video games and start looking in the mirror at how we’re treating each other and make a desperately needed change.

  • greyhound1954

    @brent: School choice is a movement started on behalf of religion-affiliated schools in order to get their hands on money meant for public schools. These schools are not gay-friendly. Your suggestion that school choice offers safe havens for gay students is utterly ridiculous.

  • hassia

    @bigomega73 I agree, I too went to both school systems, I had the added challenge of being also black British. Firstly I spent years telling people my accent was not fake, secondly as you mentioned I refused to wear what everyone else was wearing. I had just left uniform school, why would I want to wear the same clothes like the rest.

    They also think bullying is a right of passage coupled with the insane emphasis on sport it is no wonder.

  • Merv

    It depends on the school. I went to a US school and was never bullied, just ignored, which was fine with me, because I’m pretty anti-social.

  • jeff4justice

    @hudson: Not when good intent is wasted on being ineffective. A lot more LGBT people could be helped if LGBT groups did not hoard there resources for celeb ass kissing fests and 6-figure salaries while causing people like this guy to have to needlessly duplicate something that’s supposedly already being done by all the existing LGBT groups like PLFAG, GLSEN, or Trevor Project.

    No wonder there are so many people in poverty despite all the nonprofits, celebs with charities, places of worship, and so-called social safety net programs – people’s heart strings are easily manipulated for wasting resources.

    If that makes you happy suit yourself.

  • myk

    Hi Billsees,
    InACCURATE REPORTING EVEN WORSE THAN WHEN STORY FIRST HIT IN JANUARY January 19,2013 Jadin Bell 15 hangs himself from play structure in playground of elementary school in La Grande OR (I suggest you use Google maps to see how isolated & rural this is. zip code 97850). He’s discovered by passerby & rushed to local hospital. He is airlifted, along with his parents, 250 miles to OHSU Doernbecher Childrens Hosp in Portland & placed on life support.The following weekend, after being told by doctors that Jadin showed little or no brain activity, they made the painful decision to remove life support. On 1/30 his doctors said he might survive for another week. His heart beat with the remaining strength of his youth, enhanced, no doubt, by the cardiopulmonary effect of his cheerleading activity. Jadin Robert Joseph Bell died on February 3, 2013 at 12:25 PM PST Requiescant in Pace
    Now cracks a noble heart, Good night sweet prince. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

  • myk

    @jeff4justice: The article is somewhat misleading, Jeff. The foundation, Faces for Change was co-founded by Bud Hill, a longtime friend of Jadin’s parents & Heather Martin, whose childrenn knew Jadin. If you look at Google Maps enter zip code 97850 you will see why a place like La Grande OR would need something of its own. See comment 18 for an accurate acct of the last weeks of Jadin’s life.


  • myk

    @Billysees: Billysees Thank you so much for posting link to the original article and also the link to Jadin’s memorial service. I missed a lot of things since Associated Press newswire broke Joe’s story on 4/19 . You are a good friend & more importantly a good person with a good heart. I am in your debt. Mike

  • myk

    @brent: But school choice isn’t an option that can be applied in isolated & rural areas like La Grande OR & many other places in US The population of Union County OR, of which La Grande is the county seat, is about 25,000

  • myk

    @greyhound1954: And that too. Although the Charter school movement started to provide another option than to private religiously affiliated schools.

  • myk

    jadin had asked to be home schooled & then changed his mind

  • Billysees

    @myk: 24

    Our forever-lasting hope will always be that what occurred with Jadin Bell will never happen again to any of our gay “little brothers and sisters”.

    We also hope that Jadin’s father’s journey will bring more attention to bullying and its sorrowful effects.

  • Billysees

    @myk: 20

    I’m glad I was able to be a help to anyone and everyone concerning the story of Jadin Bell and his father Joe Bell.

  • Billysees

    @myk: 18

    Thanks “myk” for the additional facts, some unknown to me, about Jadin’s final days.

    “Now cracks a noble heart, Good night sweet prince. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

    Now that will bring tears and emotions to our eyes.

    Thanks though.

  • myk

    @Billysees: Billysees I think the only thing you didn’t know was Jadin’s time of death. Even I was misinformed by my source which, if I recall correctly, told me 12:55 PM PST and corrected themselves within the following 2 days.

Comments are closed.