Earlier this week, we shared with you the unfortunate news of Nigel Shelby.
15-year-old Shelby from Huntsville, Alabama decided to commit suicide after being the victim of homophobic bullying.
Now, his mother, Camika Shelby, has come forward to speak on her son’s passing.
“I don’t want him to be remembered as a kid who was bullied for being gay and who took his own life,” she told NBC News. “He was so much more than that. He was sunshine.”
According to Camika Shelby, her son Nigel had planned to become a performer. She also spoke fondly of him by noting that he was “the sweetest child. He was so outgoing. He was always full of joy, full of light, always dancing, always singing.”
Camika Shelby shares that she knew that her son was being bullied, but not to the extent of wishing to end his life. She is now speaking on the need for acceptance of LGBTQ children.
“I definitely want to bring awareness to the bullying because when kids are struggling with their own identity, if they’re going through stuff already and you have other kids who are making them feel bad about themselves, it has an even bigger impact than if they weren’t struggling with those things.”
My heart breaks for Nigel and his family. We have to build a world where LGBTQ kids feel loved and affirmed in their identities. We honor Nigel by fighting for such a world every day. https://t.co/Wf8p3Sghjd
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) April 24, 2019
Huntsville High School, where Shelby was a freshman, has also released a statement on Facebook to encourage parents to teach kids to be allies to LGBTQ peers.
“We were saddened to learn this morning of the death of Nigel Shelby, one of our 9th-grade students. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time.”
“Many students have been affected by this news. Teachers and specially trained counselors have talked with students about Nigel and their feelings. Please be sensitive to any changes in your child’s behavior. Over the next few days, encourage your child to express his or her feelings and listen attentively.”
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This Nigel Shelby story has been haunting me for days. It’s so heart breaking to think about a child so young being bullied – literally – to death for living out loud. And as the mother of a queer child who was bullied I know how far kids go and how close to the edge young folks are pushed. As much co-opting as there is of queer culture there’s still way too much stigma and, of course, danger on queer lives. Praying for this child’s family and community. 💕 Image Created by @kendrickdaye of @equalityequation
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, you can contact the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1(800)273-8255.
In addition, you can contact the Crisis Services of North Alabama at (256) 716-1000, text the crisis text line at 741-741, or download the SPEAK suicide prevention app for free.