The body of popular YouTube gaming vlogger Daniel Desmond Amofah, aka Etika, has been found a week after he went missing, said the New York Police Department. He was 29-years-old. Authorities reportedly pulled Amofah’s body from the East River on Monday after responding to a 911 call about a person floating in the water. He was unresponsive, and EMS pronounced him dead. Amofah’s cause of death has been ruled a suicide by drowning.
Amofah was reported missing the night of June 19, a day after posting an 8-minute video to his secondary channel, TR1Iceman, in which he expressed suicidal thoughts, talked about his mental health, apologized for pushing people away, and discussed the dangers of social media. “I’m sorry for leaving such a stained legacy,” he said in the now deleted video. “I hope that my story maybe helps to make YouTube a better place in the future where people know boundaries and limits and how far things should go.” The video was removed from his channel for violating YouTube’s community guidelines but has since been reuploaded by several other people.
Amofah, known for his Nintendo-focused videos and live-streams, had been raising concerns for his well-being and mental health in past months. In October 2018, he had his main YouTube channel deactivated after posting pornography to his channel, and commenting that it was “time to die” along with the channel. In April, he live-streamed a stand-off with the police, prompted by a series of erratic tweets, including one of a picture of himself posing with a gun. At the time, the NYPD reported that Amofah was “threatening suicide in the apartment” and had a history of mental health issues. In May, Amofah was admitted to a local hospital after assaulting a police officer, according to Alice Pika, his ex-girlfriend and fellow streamer.
Following the news of Amofah’s death, many fans and fellow YouTubers have expressed their condolences and shared heartfelt tributes. A quick scroll through the Reddit forum dedicated to him, r/EtikaRedditNetwork, will show many of his fans paying tribute to the late streamer, with one fan even getting a tattoo in his honor. Fans are even petitioning to have Amofah’s primary YouTube channel restored to remember his legacy. His ex-girlfriend Alice Pika shared videos on Twitter of Amofah, including one of Amofah with her cat one month after they broke up.
Amofah’s death has prompted conversations about the toll being an online personality can take on a person’s mental health. According to The Verge, many creators have said that “balancing an intense upload schedule and coping with increasing pressures from being a public persona can worsen anxiety and depression.” Many people had mocked Amofah’s recent behavior believing him to be faking it or seeking attention. Fiona Nova, an actress/streamer who was also a close friend of Amofah’s criticized some of the late vlogger’s viewers on Twitter for turning his mental health issues into jokes. “He needed help, and we were very aware of it,” Nova tweeted. “I’m pissed beyond my mind that his very fucking obvious signs of mental illness was brushed off by not just the hospitals, but by a lot of his fans. Memes were made, jokes were made.”
All too often, mental illness is not taken seriously, and the signs get brushed off. Too many people don’t see mental illness as a legitimate illness, and those affected by mental illness are the ones paying the price. What Fiona Nova said is true. Amofah needed help, and the signs were there, but they were brushed off. The hospitals meant to treat him instead ignored the signs and dismissed him. A lot of his own fans turned his pain into memes and jokes. To go through such pain only to be ignored by doctors and mocked by fans likely drove Amofah deeper into his suffering. If mental illness was taking as seriously as it should be, Amofah, and countless others around the world who took their lives because of struggles mental illness, could still be alive today.
Mental illness is a valid illness. It encompasses a wide spectrum of conditions, but each one is legitimate. Mental illness awareness is nowhere near what it should be, people are struggling and suffering but they’re getting ignored, and often by the people who they need most, be it family, friends, or doctors. Having their illness brushed off as nothing only makes the person suffering feel more alone, and many see no other option than to take their own life. If mental illness was taken as seriously as it should be, most of these suicides could be avoided.
If you, or a friend or loved one, are having suicidal thoughts, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers a free and confidential 24-hour service at 800-273-8255 to provide emotional support for people in distress, and prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones. It also runs an online chat service. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org. If you are in the US, you can also text the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741 for free, confidential 24-hour support. Please reach out. You are not alone.