Suicide in Stars: A Flashback to Etika

from Issue 5


esmond Amofah, known online as “EtikaWorldNetwork,” or just “Etika,” tragically killed himself in June. Being only 29, Desmond had his whole life ahead of him. He had gained a cult following on YouTube for his coverage on Nintendo video games. Perhaps his most popular attribute was how funny he was. In his videos, he always had high energy and frequently interacted with his live audience. Unfortunately, his goofy antics caught up to him, leaving him lost in a cycle of self-degradation.

Throughout his career, Desmond had gained the reputation of being one of the edgier content creators on the Internet. From exploring the dark web live on stream to suing Sony for $25, it seemed that he had no limits. He was a prominent Nintendo fan, with some of his most popular videos being his absurd reactions to characters being added into the Super Smash Bros. line of games. Upon the reveal of a character he liked, he would scream at the top of his lungs and even break his own furniture in a frenzy of excitement. It seemed like his goal was to one-up himself in crazy stunts. Unfortunately, his eccentricity opened the door for Etika to be lost in his online personality.

While the aforementioned reactions did boost his popularity, they also undermined any struggle he could have been dealing with mentally. Etika began to raise the stakes of his stunts significantly, starting with standoffs with the police. Desmond used Instagram Live to broadcast an encounter with the police surrounding his apartment in New York City. A lot of his fans heard only such cries as “The revolution will not be televised!” at the police as an attempt to make headlines and gain attention. However, closer fans and observers saw him for what he was: a shocked media star grappling with mental health issues. When the police tried to calm him down, Desmond kept repeating the phrase, “I’m scared.” This disparity in interpretation is best represented in the live comments of the broadcast. Some comments were supportive and encouraged him to calm down and comply. “Hey just chill okay comply please” and “Bro just open the door. They wanna see if you’re okay. Just open it and you’ll be alright man” stick out as notable examples of this. Unfortunately, a good majority of the comments were either irrelevant or failed to take the situation seriously. Many viewers just simply commented the clown emoji, implying that Desmond was not to be taken seriously because he was being a “clown.” Others made jokes about the situation. One commenter mockingly suggested that he should play video games with the police. Eventually, the police successfully entered his apartment and admitted him into a mental hospital, where he was released only after a couple of days. After this, Etika faced harassment online about his mental health. On Twitter, users would mock him about when his next mental breakdown was going to be. For Desmond, this significantly undermined any struggles he had been having, and no doubt made him feel like his mental health issues were invalidated. All of this culminated in the posting of what would be his final video: a suicide note. 

In this video, Desmond is walking towards the Manhattan Bridge explaining to his viewers his regrets of turning them away from him in his recent stunts. He laments that he could not be there to finish his favorite shows and experience more of what life has to offer. More than anything, Desmond wishes that his story will be a lesson to anyone under the influence of social media. He states, “Let my story be one that advises caution on too much [social media]. It will — you up and give you an image of what you want your life to be….Unfortunately, it consumed me.” Fans of social media icons should be wary of any signs of mental health issues in who they follow, and take care to not just scoff them off as attention-seeking or not serious.

If you or someone you know is dealing with suicidal thoughts, there are resources available to help you.

National Suicidal Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 | Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741741