Celebrity site E! News has provoked outrage after it published a damning article claiming that Lee Thompson Young committed suicide after embracing the 'Yoruba religion.'
The US actor, who rose to fame as the star of Disney series The Famous Jett Jackson, was found dead at his North Hollywood home by police after he failed to show up for work on TNT's crime drama Rizzoli & Isles.
According to reports the actor died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 29 years old.
As he left no suicide note, the reason he took his own life remains a mystery.
E! online, however, is reporting that the actor's behaviour changed after he began practicing Yoruba - which is purportedly an Africa-based religion.
Yoruba is one of the three main languages spoken in Nigeria, West Africa. Yoruba people have a wide range of beliefs.
The story claims the alledged sect has a saying, "iku ya j'esin" meaning "death is preferable to ignominy", which may suggest Young killed himself to protect his family from public shame.
A source also alleges that Thompson was suffering depression and "didn't drink or party" in the months leading to his apparent suicide because of his involvement in Yoruba.
"He was the opposite. Lee loved to travel and was always the first to tell everyone to take a breath and enjoy the beauty of life."
The source added that Young "took [his religion] to the next level and started wearing white all of the time.
"This religion was everything to him."
Chief Priest of Osogbo, Araba Ifayemi Osundagbonu Elebuibon, told the National Mirror earlier this year that the Yoruba culture does not "support suicide. The person who commits suicide will be punished in the hereafter".
The online and Nigerian community has since accused E! News of reporting false facts in an attempt to find a scapegoat for Young's death.
One unimpressed reader said: "One Wait what?! Religion called Yoruba? OKAY perhaps I need to consult google to find out about this religion because as far as I know it's a tribe and a language."
"What sort of foolishness is this... Can't the E! News researchers do what they are paid for before writing trash!" another wrote.
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