Family, friends form 'Faces for Change' after bullied teen's death

LA GRANDE, Ore. - Jadin Bell was a teenager pushed to despair and now there is an effort to turn his short life into a life-changing movement for others.

In January, 15-year-old Jadin Bell tried to hang himself at an elementary school playground in La Grande, Ore. Someone passing by tried to rescue Bell but the young man died weeks later at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland when he was taken off life support.

Bell's family said the teenager, who was gay, was pushed to suicide after being bullied both in person and on the Internet.

The young man's uncle, Bud Hill, said the family was very supportive of Bell's sexual orientation but classmates called him names. Hill said the teenager had complained about the bullying to a school counselor.

Following what happened, those who knew and loved Bell are trying to take on bullying in his name.

"It just puzzles me that somebody that had such a huge heart as he did could be ridiculed and brought down to the point that he did what he did," Hill said.

Hill, along with Heather Martin, a concerned mother, are among the founding members of Faces for Change. Their foundation's mission is to take on bullying in Bell's name.

On Monday, one of their first acts as a group was completed. They sponsored a motivational speaker, Jeremy Arno, and he talked to the student body at La Grande High School about the ups and downs of life.

Meanwhile, Bell's family is dealing with how to move forward.

For the boy's father, it means a journey - a long one. Joe Bell is planning to leave Saturday to walk across the country and share what happened to his son with whoever will listen. He is bound for New York City, which is where his son wanted to live after he graduated from high school.

"He just felt he had to do something for his self healing," Hill said. "You know, he's hurting pretty bad with the loss of his son."

This is a symbolic week for the anti-bullying effort. The national Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network is calling for a National Day of Silence this Friday. They are asking students across the country to observe a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of bullying and harassment.