After reports first surfaced of the death by suicide of 15-year old Nigel Shelby, the news has gone national. Following the flood of support, Shelby’s mother has spoken out publicly and an Alabama-based police officer has been suspended following controversial comments about the incident.
A GoFundMe, started to raise funds for Shelby’s funeral has raised more than $30,000. The money will go to his mother Camika Shelby who called her child the “light of her life” in an interview with NBC.
“Nigel was the sweetest child,” she said, saying that the teenager had dreams of being a performer and came out to her two years ago. She also said that the two were going to doctors and psychiatrists “on a regular basis” to deal with the high schooler’s bouts of depression.
“Depression is real, it really is,” she said. “A lot of people don’t understand that depression is a real disease.” While she said that she doesn’t blame the death solely on the bullying, she points out that it likely exacerbated an already tumultuous internal battle as Nigel struggled to accept himself. But, he was more than that,” she said.
“I don’t want him to be remembered as a kid that was bullied for being gay and took his own life,” she explained. “He was sunshine. He was such a good spirit to have around. It breaks my heart because I feel like he had so much love to give.”
In a response to social media postings about Shelby’s death, a Madison County deputy sheriff — the Shelby’s live there — wrote to Facebook “I’m seriously offended that there is such a thing as [the LGBTQ+] movement.” He also parodied the acronym, writing that it stood for “Liberty, Guns, Bible, Trump, BBQ.”
“Society cannot and should not except this behavior,” he also wrote, according to a screenshot obtained by WAFF48. “I have a right to be offended and will always be offended by this fake movement which requires no special attention but by fake persons with an altered ego and fake agenda.” After the messages were flagged to the Madison County Sheriff's Office, the deputy was put on leave as the office investigated the comments.
The Office also offered its condolences to Shelby’s family and friends.”Bullying of any group or person in or outside of schools is unacceptable, and I welcome any and all efforts to raise awareness to bullying and bring bullying to a stop.” Sheriff Kevin Turner said in a statement.