2021 leaves us with some mysterious influencer deaths that online fan communities are looking for closure on. The circumstances in which these women lost their lives were not entirely clear and many questions still remain. Will we find answers to them next year? Who knows.
But the spate of influencer deaths this year should be a strong reckoning point for us, as a society, on the use of social media and how far we can stretch its boundaries before it stakes claim to our mental health. Hearing and exchanging stories of influencer deaths through the year has to netizens been both a lesson in sharing grief and how voyeurism works.
These death cases, shrouded in mystery, were simultaneously shrouded in speculation too, which often turned ugly. Need we look at these demises with more empathy and less guesswork. There was a real person behind the tragic headline, and we would do well to never forget this.
Mysterious Influencer Deaths That Shook The Year:
1. Gabby Petito
In what was perhaps the most publicised and high-profile influencer death case of the year, vlogger Gabby Petito was found dead in September following a trip she undertook with her fiance. Days after she went missing, her remains were found at a national park in Wyoming, with the coroner report saying she died of manual strangulation. Making the case and circumstances of her death murkier, days after Petito’s death, her fiance Brian Laundrie too was found dead after a period of disappearance. The case remains unsolved, with a recently released documentary seeking to answer some questions about it.
2. Yubei Security Guard
A famous Chinese influencer who was known only as the Yubei security guard and was notable for making videos in her uniform was allegedly murdered by a fan earlier this year. The influencer and person accused of her murder apparently met over social media, with the latter offering her expensive gifts. As per reports, when the relationship between them soured, the man asked her to return the cash amount of the gifts he gave her, a demand she turned down and which allegedly resulted in her death. The influencer’s husband revealed that he was unaware of whatever had been happening between the two.
Suggested Reading: Influencer Deaths And How Internet Communities Are Facing Grief Up Close
3. Samantha Rabinowitz
Most fans didn’t know what she looked like but the outpouring of grief after content creator Samantha Rabinowitz was reported to be dead was massive. With millions of followers online, Rabinowitz was famous for being the faceless figure behind the popular YouTube channel ‘Here For The Tea,‘ which took on narrative gossip from the world of makeup artists and beauty gurus. The circumstances of her death were not made clear but in the days preceding her death, Rabinowitz shared on social media that she had received “devastating” news and that she needed time off.
4. Ladydrivah 2.0
TikTok influencer Rachelle, famous for her truck-driving videos, sharp wit and famous under her username Ladydrivah, was an online sensation for filming gender-breaking narratives on women drivers. She was found dead in her vehicle this year, without much disclosure on the details of her passing made to fans. In the days leading up to her death, she had allegedly been battling depression and had spoken strongly against people committed in relationships cheating on their partners. She had also revealed she was getting immense online hate and considered shutting her account. She is survived by two children.
5. Miss Mercedes
In what was reported to be a case of murder-suicide, Instagram influencer Janae Gagnier, known to fans as Miss Mercedes, was found dead in her Texas apartment in September. The man accused of killing her too was found dead at the scene of the crime. Medical reports suggested Gagnier died of strangulation, while the man died of suicide. The motive behind the attack was not made clear and police said no connection was detected between the two deceased persons. However, a relative of Gagnier made a statement alleging she was being stalked. Read here.
6. Kristina Dukic
Kristina ‘Kika’ Dukic was an avid gamer and streamer before she died at the young age of 21 at her home in Belgrade earlier this month. Police did not reveal the cause of death and said no foul play was detected until the point in the investigation that latest reports date back to. Dukic’s mother in a statement mourning her death, however, made mention of suicide helplines that has led fans to believe Dukic may have ended her life. She had allegedly been facing consistent cyberbullying for the past five years, with people body-shaming her and calling her “fake.”