There was a string of influencer suicides in 2021. All unfortunate and tragic occurrences that took young lives, they left entire fan communities in mourning for their favourite stars who had secured places as standing icons of inspiration across fields, from beauty to travel to farming to sports. But what often goes ignored when reviewing these moments of tragedy is the kind of impact the internet is having on our mental health, every single day.
(Trigger Warning: The following contains a report of instances of suicide that may be disturbing to some. Reader discretion is advised.)
It isn’t just online celebrities or creators partaking in influencer cultures who are burdened with the impossible expectations and virtual validation that the internet has become the one-stop destination for. It can happen, and is happening, to each one of us plugged into social media.
There is no conclusive line on whether all these influencer suicides came about as a result of social media impinging on mental health. But there is no doubt about the fact that a direct or indirect correlation between our use (or abuse) of the internet and offline consequences. These untimely deaths can be a good place to start that conversation.
5 Influencer Suicides That Are Wake-Up Calls For More Attention To Mental Health:
1. Caitlyn Loane
A 19-year-old TikToker, Caitlyn Loane was famous on the internet for her farming and nature-based videos from Australia, where she was held up as an icon of inspiration for young girls looking to get into the field of agriculture. She was also a locally known footballer. As per reports, Loane died by suicide in July with limited further details on reasons for her death. Her family in a statement remembered her as a “lovely, crazy young woman.”
In June, an Instagram influencer popular mononymously as Nicuseaaa, reportedly died by suicide in Moldova leaving behind a note asking her family for forgiveness. Just before her death, she had shared a post on social media that comprised only of a black square and two words: “The End.” Certain reports said she had been battling depression. She was living with her boyfriend at the time of her passing but was alone when she took her life.
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3. Lee MacMillan
Famous ‘van life’ influencer Lee MacMillan’s death came as a shocking jolt to fellow content creators and fans in March. She had been fighting depression, a statement on her Instagram page read in the days following her death. In her final post, 28-year-old MacMillan had spoken about taking a break from travelling for her mental health. Reports suggest she was missing in the days preceding her death and was hit by a train in what police said was a self-inflicted end.
4. Luo Xiao Mao Mao Zi
The circumstances of Luo Xiao Mao Mao Zi‘s death were disturbing and point to the need for mental health safety on social media. Reports suggest the 25-year-old influencer, who was battling depression, was egged on by her followers on livestream to drink pesticide on camera in October. She said that would be her last video. Though she was rushed to hospital, she could not be saved. Some reports called it an accident, citing people close to Zi who said it was not her intention to end her life.
Dazhariaa Quint Noyes, fondly known to fans as Dee, was only 18 when she reportedly took her own life in February. She was a TikTok vlogger and had, in the period preceding her death, newly turned an entrepreneur with her own beauty product range. While a cause of death was not immediately made clear, reports eventually confirmed that Noyes had died by suicide. Her father mourned her death by sharing a photo-collage of her pictures on TikTok from her account.
6. Rifa Mehnu
Rifa Mehnu’s death came as a shock to her fans. According to reports, a 20-year-old Kerala vlogger was found dead in her Dubai apartment. Fans are concerned about knowing the reason behind her death, here’s what we know so far.
Mehnu’s last Instagram post was just three days before she died. She and her husband had reportedly visited the Kozhikode Star Restaurant in the UAE, and she had posted a video about it on her profile. Meanwhile, the most recent post on her husband Mehnaz Mehnu’s profile is from a day ago and shows him standing near the Burj Khalifa. Fans are expressing condolence in the comments area of both the influencer’s and her husband’s posts.