Jadin Bell, a 15-year-old from Oregon, hanged himself on an elementary school playground after homophobic bullying
The father of a gay teen who hanged himself is walking across the United States to spread his message against bullying.
On 19 January, Joe Bell’s 15-year-old son Jadin was taken to Portland hospital in Oregon after he hanged himself on a playground at an elementary school.
The teen, who had gone to a counsellor to report homophobic bullying in the past, died two weeks later.
Bell has now resigned from his long-time job to walk across North America, which he says will take two years to walk 5,000 miles, at a rate of 15 to 25 miles a day.
‘I needed a break. I was ready, I was looking for something different,’ he told the La Grande Observer.
‘I just wish, however, that I was doing this under different circumstances.
Along the way, Bell will speak at schools and other venues to emphasize the importance of speaking up against bullying and for schools to deal with it properly when it does come up.
His planned route will take him through the southern states, including Texas, Arkansas and Lousiana, before moving north to New York and his final destination Delaware.
‘It will be a healing process for him,’ Bud Hill said, a friend and co-founder of Bell’s foundation Faces For Change.
Bell believes he could the first person to walk across the US with two artificial knees, and hopes his walk will also inspire people who have had joint replacement surgery.
In September 2010, the It Gets Better project launched in response to the number of gay teens taking their own life. Since then, it has inspired more than 50,000 videos which have been viewed over 50 million times.