Mark Wahlberg, an American actor, producer and songwriter, who starred in several movies including The Departed, stayed in La Grande on Sunday night to do research for a film he’s working on about the late Jadin and Joe Bell, who were both from La Grande.
Jadin Bell died at 15 years old when he committed suicide in 2013 for being the subject of homophobic bullying. His father, Joe Bell, wanted to raise awareness about his son’s struggles and went on a 5,000 mile walk across America. Joe Bell was struck by a car and killed in Colorado during his trek six months into his campaign.
Jadin Bell’s family members and friends said bullying drove him to suicide, and they later launched an anti-bullying campaign called Faces for Change.
Joe Bell gave numerous talks in churches, schools and other places on behalf of his foundation during his walk. He talked of the evils of bullying and what can be done to prevent it.
Since his death, Bell’s name and face have been associated with a global effort to prevent suicide. Stop Homophobia, a worldwide network based in the United Kingdom, often shares an image of Bell on its Facebook page, typically to garner support for the suicide prevention cards it prints and distributes. Text on the image notes Bell attempted suicide “after being bullied.” The text goes on to say, “Tragedies like this should never have to happen.”
Wahlberg started the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation, with the goal to “remove and eliminate barriers that prevent youth from succeeding,” according to its website.
The film about Jadin and Joe Bell is in its very early stages. Wahlberg’s agent declined an interview with the actor due to his limited time in La Grande.