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Teen dies in hospital after suicide attempt
By Dick Mason / The Observer
La Grande High School lost one of its most popular students Sunday.
Sophomore Jadin Bell, a cheerleader at the school, died in a Portland hospital, 15 days after being critically injured in a suicide attempt he is believed to have been driven to by bullying.
“As a school community we are very saddened by the passing of Jadin,” said La Grande School District Superintendent Larry Glaze. “I just wish that at this time that his family can grieve and mourn the loss of Jadin with the privacy they deserve.
“Now the challenge is the healing that needs to take place.”
Funeral arrangements will be announced later.
Bell, who grew up in La Grande, was in his first year as a member of LHS’s cheerleading team. Junior cheerleader Nichole Jackman said she will always remember Bell’s smile and selfless manner.
“He was always smiling, the focus was never on himself. It was always about other people,” Jackman said. “He always wanted to be your best friend.”
Melissa Jackman, a volunteer assistant coach for the cheerleading team, agreed.
“No matter how hard it got he was always smiling,” the assistant coach said.
La Grande High School and La Grande Middle School students and staff received counseling today in the wake of Bell’s passing to help them with the grieving process.
The counseling is being provided by members of a Crisis Intervention Flight Team created by the InterMountain Education Service District. The intervention team is comprised of people from schools, churches, private organizations and outside organizations. Most members of the crisis team are from Umatilla County.
Bell was spotted hanging from an apparatus at Central Elementary School the afternoon of Jan. 19 when he was rescued by a fast-acting passerby. Bell, 15, was taken to Grande Ronde Hospital and then flown to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.
Doctors there put Bell in a medically induced coma to lower his body temperature to reduce brain swelling. A brain scan was conducted after he was brought out of the coma and it was found that there was not enough brain activity to support life.
Doctors took Bell off life support on Jan. 26 with the consent of his family.
His parents, Lola Lathrop and Joe Bell, were at their son’s side throughout the time he was in the hospital.
Jadin Bell’s popularity was evident on Jan. 23 when LHS students conducted a vigil for Bell at the Art Center at the Old Library, which was attended by almost 200 people. A number of those in attendance, including close family friends, said they believed bullying drove Bell to attempt suicide.
Meri Olmstead, LHS’s cheerleading coach, said Bell had a remarkable work ethic and was a very talented cheerleader.
“His jumps were phenomenal,” Olmstead said. “I don’t think he understood how good he was,” she said.
Mary Fuller-Smith, an LHS freshman, said Bell had an infectious enthusiasm,
“He made everybody happy. If you were unhappy he lit you up,” she said.
LHS freshman Neki Krantz said Bell was the type of person you could always count on for support.
“He was there for you if one of us had a hard time,” said Krantz, a member of the LHS cheerleading team.