In Battle Ground and La Grande, spate of teen suicides continues

By Dan Tilkin, KATU News, Jan. 30, 2013

After KATU’s coverage of a cluster of seven teen suicides in the town of Battle Ground, the discussion about suicide has branched out to deal with the issue in communities across the area.

In the town of La Grande, Ore. two children in the last three months were intent on ending their own lives. A 16-year-old girl killed herself in October and now there’s a 15-year-old boy who is not expected to live after hanging himself.

His family said he was the target of bullying.

Through Skype on Monday, Bud Hill shared what he admires about Jadin Bell, the son of a family friend who is so close that Hill considers Jadin his nephew.

“If someone was down and out he would walk into a room and say a couple quick words and everybody would just forget about their problems and smile. He just had a gift,” Hill said.

Dozens of people came together last week in La Grande in a vigil for Jadin, trying to understand what drove him to despair nine days ago.

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.

“It’s tough enough to deal with what you know is coming up, but the waiting is not good,” Hill said.

The superintendent in La Grande says everyone there is heartbroken. He’s asked a mental health agency to look at how the school deals with these issues to see if there’s a better way to handle it.

Hill is vowing to start a new organization in Jadin’s honor to tackle these issues.

It was a KATU On Your Side Investigation into the two most recent suicides in Battle Ground that sparked this local conversation about teen suicide.

[The following resources were provided by]

Resources for youth

  • Mind Your Mind: A non-profit dedicated to providing reliable information for youth dealing with depression, anxiety, and suicide. The site contains youth-specific resources, tips for coping with mental illness issues, and the personal stories of youth who have experienced and overcome these issues.
  • Reach Out: A website for youth, by youth, with information on how to help yourself or a friend who is thinking about suicide. Allows youth to share their stories about overcoming depression and suicide in an online, supportive environment.
  • We Can Help Us: A collection of videos made by real teens who have gone through a variety of different challenges and overcome them. Also allows other youth to share their own stories in a supportive environment.
  • The Trevor Project: A website dedicated to helping LGBTQ youth dealing with depression, anxiety, and suicide. Also operates a 24-hour crisis hotline, 1-866-4-U-TREVOR.
  • The Jed Foundation: A resource for college students containing information about depression and anxiety among college students, and information about how to get help at school.
  • An online resource that offers information about how to find and contact a therapist, and how to make sure your therapist is right for you. Also offers resources for connecting to a therapist online for ‘e-therapy’.
  • Teen forum on suicide being held in Battle Ground

Resources for parents:

  • Association for Behavioral Cognitive Therapies: Offers information for parents about childhood mental health issues and advice on finding the best treatment for you and your family.
  • Lok-It-Up: A campaign to promote the safe storage of firearms. Offers advice on how to safely store firearms and prevent teen firearm suicide.
  • ASK Campaign: A website dedicated to gun safety. Information about firearm deaths and tips for preventing your children from gun violence.

Resources for Educators:

  • Evergreen Education Association: The Evergreen Education Association is holding a “Diversity and Social Justice Conference” in February with a session that will focus on suicide prevention.