Family: Huntsville High student struggled with depression before suicide

An aunt of the student says her nephew was receiving treatment for his depression prior to his death.

Posted: Apr 23, 2019 2:23 PM
Updated: Apr 23, 2019 9:57 PM

An aunt of the Huntsville High School student who took his life, Nigel Shelby, talked with WAAY 31 about her nephew on Tuesday. She told us her name was Kita and that her nephew was bullied at the school and was gay.

Shelby was a freshman at Huntsville High School. Superintendent Christie Finley shared a message to the community about his death during a board meeting on Monday.

Nigel Shelby (Photo courtesy of the family)

One parent, Jeniece Willis-Wilmer, who has a student at the school told us learning of his death was tough on her family.

"It made me cry because I had heard he had committed suicide, and so for me getting the facts on that information it was just hard to hear as a parent," she said.

Kita said her nephew also struggled with depression and had sought treatment.

She said Nigel came out two years ago when he was 13. His being gay and bullied was a factor in his death, she said, but it was not the only reason he took his life. Kita said the entire family had always supported Shelby as he worked to find his way in the world.

Willis-Willmer said she hopes other kids at the school talk about the loss of their classmate.

"I didn't know what was really going on, but I do know that he had passed away and I was very concerned how that affected all the kids as well as the child's experience in the school," Willis-Wilmer added.

Kita described him as a selfless, outgoing and loving kid who was full of life. He loved theater and wanted to be an entertainer, citing Ariana Grande as his favorite performer.

Nigel killed himself April 18. His funeral is scheduled for Saturday.

Huntsville City Schools spokesperson, Keith Ward, released the following statement Friday evening regarding Nigel's death:

"The administrators and counselors of Huntsville High School had a close relationship with both Nigel and his mother during his time at Huntsville High School. They worked with Nigel to ensure that he felt at home at Huntsville High School. Those individuals are absolutely devastated by Nigel’s passing and are doing everything in their power to support Nigel’s mother in any way they can. They encourage others to reach out and support her during this trying and difficult time."

"Prior to his passing, the administration of Huntsville High School and Huntsville City Schools did not receive any complaints of bullying and harassment of Nigel Shelby. Nevertheless, as is customary when there is a tragedy like this, Huntsville City Schools’ administration is investigating the circumstances of Nigel’s time at Huntsville High School. The school system will use this information to evaluate its current supports for students who have been bullied and to make changes if appropriate."

Check with WAAY 31 on air and WAAYTV.com for more updates to this story.

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