The recent story of the death of the YouTuber ‘Etika’ to suicide has been truly shocking not only to his subscribers and fans but to the social media community as a whole. His tragic death, and the recent suicides of reality TV stars, has led to increased media awareness of suicide and suicide prevention. Many questions have arisen including:
- What is the link between social media and suicide?
- Is there a direct relationship between online abuse and suicide?
Desmond ‘Etika’ Amofah was a popular YouTuber with many followers. However, there had been concerns for his mental health a while before his death. His intense and regimented schedule and the constant pressure to upload new content to his channel was having a negative effect on his mental health. In fact, he had even addressed these issues in his final video. For many people, a stressful job with tight deadlines and time constraints can lead to anxiety and depression. The added pressure of being in the public eye, where your every move is followed and commented upon, and where you are the target of online trolls, can take serious a toll on one’s mental health.
An article in ‘The Sun on Sunday’ dated 23rd March 2019 highlighted the shocking fact that, since 1986, 38 reality TV stars have taken their own lives worldwide. Two recent deaths involved cast members of a popular UK reality show, which proves that even individuals in the public eye are not exempt from depression and suicidal thoughts. One major issue relating to individuals with a high social media following is that they can become the targets of online trolls and bullying and abuse.
People need to take the time to think before posting anything negative online. Nobody is entitled to bully or insult another person, whether they are a celebrity, online influencer or just a normal member of the public. If a person chooses to put their life on social media, it does not mean they are exempt from mental health disorders or suicidal thoughts. The persona that someone presents online is often not a realistic reflection of their true self. The more we are aware of suicide on social media, the more we can strive to have a positive effect on others rather than being negative, which could add to these recent tragedies.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (UK) — 1-800-273-8255
Samaritans Ireland — 116-123