The YouTube star Etika, who had recently turned his gaming channel into a venue for rants and confrontations with police officers, was found dead in New York’s East River this week after posting a video expressing suicidal thoughts, though a cause of death has not yet been released.
Desmond Amofah, 29, had attained hundreds of thousands of followers and subscribers as Etika — a Nintendo fanboy with a high-top haircut who reacted to new trailers and game announcements with exaggerated howls of emotion.
His online behavior turned erratic in October, when, as Kotaku reported, he uploaded pornography, resulting in the first of several suspensions from YouTube. In the following weeks, Amofah spammed his other social media accounts with suicidal messages, slurs and grandiose pronouncements about his own talent.
In late April, about 19,000 people watched as he live-streamed from his apartment window, as police officers called up to him from below. It was unclear what brought them there, but Amofah narrated for his viewers for more than half an hour — “Look at this! My hands are shaking, I’m so scared” — before officers with tactical shields drilled through the door.
Police took him to a hospital, Kotaku reported, but he was soon released. The next day, Amofah called in to the YouTube gossip show “DramaAlert” and told the host he was the Antichrist and a god and had no fear of death.
The host, who calls himself Keemstar, smirked and sipped a can of ginger ale.
“When you say death means nothing, are you basically saying life is a simulation?” Keemstar asked.
“Yeah!” Amofah said. “Life is a video game; we’re all in a video game.”
“If you really think about it, then why live?” Keemstar asked later in the interview. “Just jump off a cliff? If it’s just a simulation, who cares?”
Amofah had more outbursts over the following days — more rants, more suspensions, more police altercations. While many of his fans expressed concern in his Twitter feeds, others goaded him as if his disintegration were a part of his show.
On Friday, after New York police announced that Amofah had not been seen since posting a suicidal message to YouTube two days earlier, “DramaAlert” posted a video in which Keemstar, with a bucket of popcorn beside his microphone, wondered whether the whole thing might be a “stunt. ”
Amofah’s wallet, phone and Nintendo Switch were found on the Manhattan Bridge hours after he went missing, according to the Daily Dot. On Monday, after days of searching, a 911 caller reported a man floating in the river nearby.
“All of us at YouTube are sending condolences to his loved ones and fans,” the official Twitter account for YouTube creators posted after police confirmed the body’s identity on Tuesday.
In Amofah’s final video, uploaded to an alternate account that had not been suspended, he appears to be walking through the streets of New York with the camera pointed at his face.
“I’m sorry, y’all,” he said. “You know, I wasn’t suicidal before, I really wasn’t. But one thing I didn’t realize is the walls are closing around me too fast. … I guess I am mentally ill."
He apologized to his family and friends — “Keemstar, I wish you the best,” he said — and blamed himself for turning away help.
“I’m sorry for leaving such a stained legacy,” he said shortly before the end. “I hope that my story maybe helps to make YouTube a better place, somehow, in the future, to where people know boundaries and limits to how far things should go. ”
The video was later deleted for violating YouTube’s terms of service.