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A week ago, YouTuber Etika uploaded a concerning video. Days later, police found his body.

Warning: This post deals with suicide, and may be triggering for some readers. 

On June 19, Desmond ‘Etika’ Amofah uploaded a video to his YouTube channel.

That wasn’t unusual – the 29-year-old YouTuber had made a name for himself on the platform, where he uploaded videos of himself playing and discussing Nintendo games.

But the content of this video, which has been deleted, was different. In it, Etika talked for eight minutes about suicide while walking the streets of New York.

He spoke about suffering from mental illness, how social media “consumed” him, and he apologised for pushing people away.

After being uploaded, the video concerned many of his followers. His YouTube channel TR1Iceman has more than 140,000 subscribers.

On June 21, the New York Police Department tweeted a photo of Etika, asking for help from the public to find him.

Four days later, the NYPD confirmed Etika was found dead on the evening of June 24.

Etika joined YouTube in 2012 and became best known for reaction videos, where he would respond to new releases, especially from Nintendo.

Kotaku reported he had been publicly dealing with mental health since October 2018, when he self-destructed his own YouTube channel by uploading content that got his account deleted. He did this again with a second account at a later time.

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TR1Iceman was his third YouTube account.

In April, Etika sent out a series of bizarre and worrying tweets, some suggested he was planning to end his own life.

That same month, Etika livestreamed for 45 minutes as police arrived at his apartment after he threatened suicide: tens of thousands of people watched as he was detained. Etika was put in an ambulance and admitted to hospital, but he was released just a few hours later.

Nine days later he tweeted again, saying he had gone too far in his attempts at “edgy shock humour”.

Not long after, in May, he was admitted to hospital again after an altercation with a security guard.

After Etika was found deceased, an NYPD representative confirmed to Kotaku his body had been found.

They said the cause of death was not discovered and the investigation was ongoing.

Sadly, Etika is far from the first high-profile YouTuber to have mental health play out online.

There is plenty of research about the impacts of social media on everyday users, but more research surrounding the toll of having large followings on social media bloggers, vloggers and influencers is needed.

Kaylee Kruzan, a researcher at Cornell University’s Social Media Lab, told NBC News the effects of having a large online platform are not known.

“We’re only breaking the ice on how social media is affecting teens and adults but those are not influencers we’re studying, so I think these effects could be quite different.”

Kruzan said she thinks social media platforms are taking steps in the right direction to intervene when someone threatens self-harm, but everyone from the platforms, users and all those who come into contact with the person, including authorities and hospitals, had a part in suicide prevention.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner or in Australia, contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue at 1300 22 4636. In an emergency, call triple-0.

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