On April 18th, 2019 Nigel Shelby, a 15-year-old student at Huntsville High
School in Huntsville, Alabama, was reported to have died by suicide.
Shelby’s mother told NBC News
that he had been the target of anti-gay bullying before his death; his
passing tragically highlights the fact that our culture is failing our
most at-risk youths, especially those who live at multiple intersections
of marginalization. We need to do more to help young people like Shelby
— and that happen until we destigmatize our national conversation
around suicidality and challenge persistent myths that accompany it in
Those challenges are compounded by the fact that far
too little research has been done on the needs and issues faced by Black
LGBTQ+ youth. The Human Rights Campaign’s 2019 Black & African American LGBTQ Youth report,
however, shows us that many face disproportionate levels of physical
harm, bullying, and sexual assault in their daily lives; only 19 percent
of young people surveyed in the HRC’s study reported being able to “be
themselves” at home, while 80 percent reported “usually feeling
depressed or down.” Around 40 percent said they’d been bullied at school
within the last 12 months.
names lending a helping hand to Shelby’s family. Nigel took his own life
after being bullied for his sexuality by kids at school.
years old at the time of his passing.
Black teens and children extremely troubling. “Suicide in Black youth
is on the rise and has reportedly reached twice that of White youth,” Nadia M. Richardson of the No More Martyrs organization posted to Facebook in the wake of Shelby’s death.
further than the state of Alabama. I graduated from Huntsville High. I
am still processing this loss. We have so much to understand and so much
work to do. Racism, sexism, homophobia, classism; all of that plays a
part. Bullying is a by-product of a world ill-equipped to include that
which is deemed different.”