A 15-year-old Alabama teen tragically ended his life after repeatedly being bullied because of his sexual orientation.
Nigel Shelby died on Thursday and his mother, Camika is still in shock after the devastating loss 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,” she told NBC News.
Bravely, Nigel came out as being gay, but he was scared of being shunned. While he struggled to come to terms with his sexuality, he also battled depression.
“Coming out at such a young age, it can be hard,” Camika told the news station. “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 teen faced ruthless bullying from peers about his sexuality, and because Camika knew he was depressed, she had made plans to get him professional help. “He was struggling with his identity… depression is real — it’s really a disease,” Camika added.
Trying to make sense of it all, Camika recalled the last time she spoke to Nigel, which was the night before he died.
“He told me, ‘Mom I’m going to do better in school.’ He kissed me and told me that he loved me,” Camika told NBC News. “That was the last conversation that I had with my baby.”
When she went to work the following morning, Nigel was still sleeping. Camika returned home from work around 6 pm and found her son dead.
Camika added that she felt “confused” as to why he decided to take his own life, and while she knew he went through a tough time she “didn’t think he was going through that much.”
She also addressed the constant bullying he faced. “When you have a kid that’s already depressed and going through a lot emotionally for you to call him names that you shouldn’t call them or say stuff to them — it sometimes has a worse effect than it would on a child who’s not struggling with depression,” she said.
The heartbroken mother wants Nigel to be remembered for his “sunshine” and that “he had so much more love to give.”
Nigel attended Huntsville High School, which issued a statement in support of his family:
“Our sympathy, thoughts, and prayers are with Nigel’s family. Parents, please talk to your students about Nigel’s death. Know and be aware of changes in your child. Talk to them about what they see, words they speak and actions they can take to make a difference. We must be better.”
Shockingly, after Nigel died because of bullying, a Madison County deputy took to Facebook to write his opinion about the boy’s death and the LGBTQ community.
The comment has since been deleted, but went as follows according to local NBC affiliate WAFF:
“Liberty, Guns, Bible, Trump, BBQ. That’s my kind of LGBTQ. I am seriously offended that there is such a thing as this movement. Society can not, and should not accept this behavior. I have a right to be offended and will always be offended by this fake movement which requires no special attention, but by persons with an altered ego and fake agenda.”
The deputy is now on administrative leave according to a statement released by the Madison County Sheriff’s office “pending the outcome of the audit.”
A similar tragedy occurred last year when nine-year-old Jamel Myles from Denver, Colorado came out as gay and got bullied to such an extent that he too, took his own life shortly after.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org.
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