Etika in May 2019
Desmond Daniel Amofah
May 12, 1990
|Died||c. June 19, 2019 (aged 29) |
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
|Cause of death||Suicide by drowning|
|Years active||2011–2015 (model)|
|Subscribers||1.3 million (combined)|
|Total views||145 million (combined)|
|Updated July 14, 2019|
Desmond Daniel Amofah (May 12, 1990 – c. June 19, 2019), better known as Etika, was an American YouTuber, streamer and former model, best known for his over-the-top reactions to Nintendo Direct presentations.
Following several months which involved him exhibiting signs of mental illness, as well as threatening suicide on multiple occasions, Amofah disappeared on the evening of June 19, 2019, after uploading an apologetic video in which he admitted to being mentally ill and suicidal. Amofah's body was discovered in the East River on June 24 by the New York City Police Department. They later confirmed his cause of death was suicide by drowning.
Amofah was born in Brooklyn, New York, to father Owuraku Amofah, a Ghanaian politician and lawyer, and mother, Sabrina Amofah. His father's relative (addressed by him as "uncle") Nana Akufo-Addo, of the prominent Ghanaian Ofori-Atta family, became President of Ghana in January 2017. He had several siblings, including an older brother, Randy Amofah, who died on October 31, 2010 from an asthma attack while driving through a sandstorm in Ghana, according to Amofah's ex-girlfriend Christine Cardona.
Prior to the Etika branding, Amofah was active in modeling and rapping, having released an independently produced mixtape titled "Written In Ice" in 2007, under his pseudonym, "Iceman". He started modelling in 2011 and continued until 2015. Amofah stated in a tweet that the name Etika came from the 2003 video game Sonic Battle, of which he was a fan of in his youth. In the game, players could input a cheat code titled "EkiTa" into the game. When Amofah was 12, he simply switched the T's place with the K's as he "liked that result better." He started using YouTube to broadcast his gaming and reaction streams in 2012 under his original username "EWNetwork" (pronounced "Etika World Network"). It was originally planned for the channel's content to be produced collaborarively by a variety of users including Amofah himself, but those plans never materialized. Prior to the closure of his main channel on YouTube in 2018, he had more than 800,000 followers between his YouTube and Twitch.tv channels, and within months after creating a second YouTube channel, known as "EtikaFRFX", he had gained more than 130,000 subscribers. Amofah's content was typically described as Nintendo-focused. He frequently streamed reactions, often over the top, to Nintendo Direct presentations, which usually involved him screaming and falling out of his chair in elated shock. He dubbed his fans the "Joy-Con Boyz", after the Nintendo Switch controller known as the Joy-Con. In November 2016, two videos of Amofah's where he purported to have a Nintendo Switch console before its 2017 release were scrutinized by fans; the model he was using was 3D-printed by fellow YouTuber "Sandqvist" at Amofah's request.
In June 2017, Amofah revealed himself to be the victim of multiple "fake donations", or "chargebacks" of large amounts of money sent to his PayPal account via stream donations, which would jostle Amofah with hundreds of dollars in processing fees.
In October 2018, Amofah uploaded pornography to his YouTube channel EWNetwork (then titled Etika), which violated YouTube's policies and consequently led to the channel's termination. He later ended up getting his second channel EtikaFRFX terminated in April 2019 for the same reason. He was also banned from Twitch that year for using a homophobic slur during a stream. Following the termination of his channel, Amofah posted cryptic messages to social media, including the statement "it's my turn to die", coupled with a screenshot of his terminated account. Several of his followers felt that the messages and posts were very suicidal in nature, which quickly created a panic within his following. Amofah took to social media that evening to confirm his well-being, along with other streamers who professed to having seen him safe and sound in person, so as to allay his followers' fears. He later apologized on Reddit.
On April 16, 2019, Amofah tweeted that he was going to kill himself with a pistol he bought from a gun store in Long Island, which led to his arrest and hospitalization. Christine Cardona, who had dated Amofah from 2011 to 2017, confirmed his well-being, and that she had been "observing him all day". Days later, he posted a photoshopped picture of himself holding a gun which Cardona later confirmed was fake. On April 29, after tweeting a vast quantity of cryptic messages, including homophobic and ethnic slurs (that were promptly deleted), he blocked close friends of his, including fellow YouTuber Sky Williams. Later that day, he live-streamed himself getting detained by police to over 19,000 viewers on Instagram Live, after a concerned fan had notified police about his alarmingly erratic nature during the livestream.  He was also detained again later that same week for assaulting a police officer.  Amofah would then make an appearance on the YouTube channel "DramaAlert", run by Internet personality Keemstar, for an interview, in which he stated he was the "antichrist" and that he wanted to "purge all life".
Disappearance and death
In the late evening on June 19, 2019, Amofah posted a YouTube video titled "I'm sorry" to his personal YouTube channel TR1Iceman, alluding to his suicidal thoughts as he was walking down New York City streets. In the video he admitted to having mental health issues, struggling with the attention he had gained from streaming, and apologized for pushing people away from him. Amofah left a suicide note in the description of the video. YouTube removed the video for violating its Community Guidelines, though Amofah's fans reposted the video to other outlets.
He was last heard from at 8 pm that night and was reported missing to the New York Police Department (NYPD) by June 20. While the NYPD began its own search, fellow internet personalities and his fans tried to reach out to him to offer their help and show their appreciation of his work over the years.
On Wednesday night, the same day of Amofah's disappearance, his belongings were discovered on the pedestrian walkway of the Manhattan Bridge. They included a backpack, wallet, laptop bag, cell phone, a change of clothes and a Nintendo Switch console. On the evening of June 24, a body was observed near Pier 16, approximately half a mile (0.8 km) down the East River from where Amofah's belongings were recovered, and reported to the NYPD. By the morning of June 25, the NYPD and emergency medical services had recovered the body, confirmed it was Amofah, and that he was dead at the point of recovery. The NYPD confirmed the cause of death was suicide by drowning the following day.
Amofah's death highlighted social media platforms' handling of posts by users who appear at risk with mental illness or who are contemplating suicide. YouTube, in removing Amofah's final video, stated that removal of such videos is standard practice to "reduce the potential for copycat acts of self-harm, videos that express suicidal ideation", and as part of this, sent the uploader information related to national suicide hotlines to provide help.
Because of Amofah's activities in the months prior to his disappearance, some of his followers took these previous events as a humorous performance by Amofah rather than signs of him struggling with his mental health, some people even going so far as to make memes over the incidents. Following his death, mental health researchers found that several videos Amofah had posted that showed evidence of his troubled state were taken as jokes by some of his viewers, rather than actual cries for help. As a result, some took Amofah's final video as yet another joke and disregarded any concern over his well-being; Keemstar initially thought Amofah's final video was a pre-meditated publicity stunt, and stated after Amofah's death that "I was never fully convinced that he was mentally ill or in trouble because of our private convos." The aforementioned mental health researchers stressed the need to make more people on social media informed about the signs of mental illness, depression, and suicidal thoughts, so that they are able to recognize when people in a mindset similar to Amofah's are in danger and need support. Keemstar briefly became a target of some of Amofah's fans, who blamed him for Amofah's suicide due to the "DramaAlert" interview and statements made in tweets prior to and following the interview. Amofah's mother wrote to these fans to assure them that Keemstar was in no way responsible for Amofah's death, stating that "Etika loved Keemstar's show" and only wanted to make a memorable appearance on it.
Following Amofah's suicide, fans on Twitter and in emails asked that YouTube re-upload Amofah's final video to help memorialize him. A Change.org petition was started and initially garnered more than 380,000 signatures, but later dropped to 197,000 signatures after many fraudulent signatures from internet bots were removed. It asked for Amofah's original channel to be restored to preserve his legacy. Another Change.org petition with over a million signatures, which later dropped to more than 200,000 signatures for similar reasons, called for Amofah to be buried at YouTube headquarters, which he stated as his wish during an earlier livestream. This petition was subsequently closed after laws prohibited such an action.
Fans later erected a memorial on Amofah's behalf on the pedestrian walkway of the Manhattan Bridge, leaving letters, fan art, Twizzlers, Joy-Con controllers and other Nintendo-related products/memorabilia.
- Amofah passed 100,000 subscribers on three channels; EWNetwork in 2015, EtikaFRFX in 2018 and TR1Iceman in 2019.
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