R.I.P. Nigel Shelby.
We are sad to report that the 15-year-old gay student tragically died by suicide on Thursday, April 18, after being bullied by his peers at Huntsville High School, in Huntsville, Alabama.
The teen’s mother, Camika Shelby, is understandably still “shocked” by her son’s unexpected death. Shelby opened up about her unimaginable grief, while speaking to NBC News, on Tuesday. She told the outlet of her son:
“He was just special. Nigel was the sweetest child. He was so outgoing. He was always full of joy, full of light.”
Camika went on to explain that although Nigel was a source of happiness for others, the young teen struggled to find it within himself. His mother says that Nigel battled depression as he (and others) struggled to accept his sexuality:
“Coming out at such a young age, it can be hard. You never know if you’re going to be accepted. He didn’t know if I was going to accept it — that’s my child I love him.”
The love and acceptance that once surrounded Shelby at home, was apparently nowhere to be found at school. Even still, Camika admitted she didn’t think the bullying had gotten that bad, and even had plans to take her son to get professional help:
“I’m kind of confused myself as to exactly what made him want to take his own life. I didn’t think he was going through that much. I knew he was depressed, we were going to see doctors… I’m still shocked.”
Our heart breaks for Nigel, and the countless other young, queer kids out there who become the subjects of cruel, homophobic bullying.
Camika recalled the last moments she shared with her sweet boy, just before he took his own life:
“He told me, ‘Mom I’m going to do better in school.’ He kissed me and told me that he loved me. That was the last conversation that I had with my baby. When I got up to go to work the next morning he was still asleep, so I didn’t even get to talk to him anymore.”
When Camika returned home around 6 p.m. that evening, she found her son dead.
Now, days after her son’s passing, the grieving mother says she wants everyone to remember Nigel for how he lived, rather than how he died:
“He was so much more than that. He was sunshine. It breaks my heart because he had so much more love to give.”
The late teen’s story has already gained widespread attention, and touched a number of celebrities, too.
Recent mental health advocate Justin Bieber shared an article about Nigel’s passing on Instagram, with a caption that reads (below):
“I hate this with a passion… stop the hatred please! I don’t understand how people can be so ignorant and hateful.”
His wifey Hailey Bieber commented on the post with two broken hearted emojis.
Real Housewives star Bethenny Frankel also commented on the story, calling it “terrible.” As you know, the Bravolebrity is no doubt still recovering from her ex Dennis Shields‘ 2018 suicide, too.
Thankfully, there is a way for us to help the Shelby family in a tangible way.
A GoFundMe page has been created in hopes of raising money for Nigel’s funeral arrangements. The page has already raised over $30,000 so far.
But despite the outpouring of condolences and support from most, there were a few negative responses to the young boy’s tragic passing.
An Alabama Sheriff’s Deputy named Jeff Graves reportedly made some pretty distasteful commentary about the public’s reaction to Nigel’s death, and went so far as to leave them on a Facebook post about the deceased teen, for the whole world to see.
News outlet WAFF 48 reports that the since-removed comments once read:
“I’m seriously offended there is such a thing as the movement. Society cannot and should not accept this behavior. Liberty, Guns, Bible, Trump and BBQ — that’s my kind of LGBTQ.”
Sigh. We don’t even know where to begin here …except to reiterate that this kind of shameful commentary is absolutely insensitive and disgusting any time, but especially in the wake of such tragedy.
We send our love and support to Nigel’s friends and loved ones, and hope that they continue to keep his joyful spirit alive.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
[Image via Camika Quintay/GoFundMe]
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