Last month, when “Jena Six” teen Mychal Bell took his Christmas money and bought a .22-caliber gun to kill himself, he says he couldn’t face the world after running into trouble again. After all, he had the support of tens – maybe hundreds – of thousands of Americans who thought he had been wronged by a racist Louisiana judicial system.
In 2007, some 20,000 activists headed to the tiny town of Jena to protest a prosecutor’s decision to try him as an adult for attempted murder, over a schoolyard fight with a White schoolmate. So, when he got nabbed recently for shoplifting at a Dillards department store, he felt his world was caving in.
"I just hear so many people supporting me and everything, and I always feel that if I ever make a mistake again, that whatever I do, it is going to have an effect," he told CNN.
Bell said he took the gun he has just bought and pointed it at his head and pulled the trigger. The gun misfired, so he tried again, this time aiming the gun at his chest. The bullet tore through his body, and he fell to the floor of his grandmother's home in Monroe on December 29, CNN reports.
"It just got to the point where I just couldn't take it anymore," Bell, who is recovering from the wound, said in an interview with CNN.
The 18-year-old is back in school despite being in pain from his wound.
"Christmas is my favorite time of year, and I just lay in bed, I cried, I tried to shake it off," he said. "I knew it was nothing but the devil, and I tried to shake it off. I kept asking people, 'Do you know where I can get a gun from?' ... I take my Christmas money to buy a gun; it don't matter how much it costs," he said. If the gun would not have misfired, "I would have hurt my family, my friends, my classmates and everybody who support me," Bell said.
"The biggest thing is graduation," he said. "One of the main things you want to do is walk across that stage and get that diploma. ... And everybody will say, 'he did it.' …A year from now, I want to be in college. ... I will be on somebody's roster, playing college ball…. I love football Saturdays."