Alabama high school freshman commits suicide after he was bullied for being gay
An Alabama 9th-grader took his own life after enduring severe bullying because he was gay, his family says.
Camika Shelby, mother of 15-year-old Nigel Shelby, found the body of her only son when she returned home from work last Thursday evening, WAFF reports.
"He was just special," she told the station. "He was outgoing, he was always full of joy, full of light, he was always singing, always dancing."
Shelby said she went to bed early after having a conversation with her son last Wednesday night, as she had to be up at 3 a.m. the following day for work.
"He came in my room and said, ‘Mom, I am going to do better in school.’ He kissed me on my cheek and told me he loved me," she recalled. "That was the last conversation that I had with my baby."
Shelby left for work while her son was still asleep in his bed. When she returned home at 6 p.m., she made the tragic discovery.
The bereaved mother said her child, who struggled with depression and had a hard time coping with his sexuality, was also subjected to severe bullying at the hands of his peers at Huntsville High School, which she says worsened his mental state.
However, Shelby told WAFF she does not want her son to be remembered as a "kid who was bullied for being gay and who took his own life."
"He was so much more than that," she said. "He was sunshine. He was just a great spirit to have around and it just breaks my heart because I feel like he had so much more love to give."
Following the news of Nigel's death, school officials released a statement mourning the loss.
"Our sympathy, thoughts and prayers are with Nigel's family," it wrote. "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."
A GoFundMe started to benefit the teen's family, as well as cover his final expenses, has raised over $37,000 of its $26,000.