A teen from Alabama has died by suicide after experiencing anti-gay bullying.
Nigel Shelby, a 15-year-old student at Huntsville High School, took his own life on 19 April, according to reports that emerged on social media over the weekend.
“We are heartbroken over the death of Nigel Shelby, a 15 year old Freshman at Huntsville High School,” wrote Rocket City Pride, the local LGBTQ Pride organisation in Huntsville, in a statement.
“Nigel took his life because he was bullied for being gay. There are no words that can be said to make sense of this devastating news.”
An online fundraiser which was started to help Nigel’s family cover funeral expenses has raised over $26,000 as of Tuesday morning, far exceeding the initial $10,000 goal.
A candlelit vigil was also held in Huntsville on Sunday 21 April to remember Nigel, and several friends and family members have taken to social media to share messages encouraging parents to educate their children against bullying and homophobia.
“His name was Nigel Shelby,” wrote one person on Facebook. “He was bullied smh teach your children to do better. So many will yaaaaas and weeeerk their way all over social media, but you won’t publicly stand up for queer folk.
“You’re not calling out your family and friends for their homophobia and transphobia. You’re not creating spaces or room for folks to be safe. He was a baby. Somebody’s baby is gone. I’m sick of it.
“I don’t even know this baby, but he’s my baby. So many queer black youth are my babies. Fight for our babies y’all because they deserve to live and live whole.”
Aaron King, Principal at Huntsville High School, issued a statement calling on parents to talk to their children about Nigel’s death and look out for warning signs that they may be experiencing similar thoughts.
“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,” he wrote.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the Samaritans (UK) on 116 123 or visit their website; alternatively call the Trevor Project (US) on 1-866-488-7386 or visit their website.