Another teenager is dead by his own hand. Noah Brand talks about why this keeps happening.
A boy named Jadin Bell hanged himself on a playground in La Grande, Oregon on January 19th, and has now been taken off life support because it appears that his brain will not recover. From local station KATU:
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.
This isn’t a national story. I only know about it because it’s local to me. It’s not a national story for the same reason that car accidents and meth busts aren’t national stories: they’re too damn common and they’re too damn similar. Far too many teenagers, gay teens especially, take this same path. They feel pain every day, all the time, and they don’t believe there will ever be an end to it. So they find a way to make their own end.
Adults forget what it’s like to be a teenager. We edit our memories down to something that looks like a Happy Days highlight reel, forcing context onto experiences that had no context at the time. What we forget, what we make ourselves forget, is how cripplingly, lethally intense everything feels at that age.
The first time you fell in love as an adolescent, you loved with a single-minded obsession you’ve probably never felt since. The first time you had your heart broken, you couldn’t imagine anything in the world ever being right again. Anger became rage. Sadness became despair. Fear became terror. We look back on those teenage highs and lows from our adult perspective, and we laugh at ourselves. We have that luxury. What we forget is that at the time, they were not fucking funny.
Kids like Jadin kill themselves because they don’t believe they can go on living, feeling the way that they do. That’s not fucking funny.
If there is a teenager or young person you know who is afraid or angry or in pain, even if it’s over something you think is trivial or silly, listen to them. They are not experiencing it as trivial or silly. They are afraid they will feel that way for the rest of their lives, and if no one listens to them, that may become literally true.