A couple of days ago, the entire video game community was shaken to its core after news of the death of popular Twitch streamer, Byron ‘Reckful‘ Bernstein broke out. According to the streamer’s ex-girlfriend and brother on Twitter, the streamer died by suicide, a fact that added even more tragedy to the already devastating news.
Bernstein was a very popular streamer with an active community. Known for his World of Warcraft streams on Twitch, Reckful had over 936k followers. In addition to that, he was also working on developing his very own game called “Everland” which was slated for release later this year.
The utterly tragic news brought the entire video game community together in paying tribute to the departed soul. Players from around the world gathered in World of Warcraft to hold in-game memorials and pay respects to the streaming legend. And not only that, but the entire social media was also filled with prayers and tributes for Reckful.
Reckful/Byron memorials are now being held inside World of Warcraft across multiple servers and locations to pay respects to a WoW legend pic.twitter.com/Nb4FHfwAvM
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) July 2, 2020
However, Reckful’s death also started off what was perhaps a much more important discussion.
Reckful’s struggle with depression
Byron Bernstein was very open about his own mental health. He used to talk about his struggles with depression and how he’s trying to cope with it. Losing his own brother to suicide earlier, suicidal tendencies had already had a major impact on his life. In addition to that, his own mental illnesses only added to the suffering.
So, following Reckful’s own advice about sharing your struggles and creating mental health awareness, many users on Twitter started opening up about themselves. For some reason though, even after many years of mental illnesses being accepted as proper illnesses, there is still a social stigma around discussing the whole subject.
While society at large has moved on from the need to explain why it is so important to talk about mental health, we are still somehow unable to actually fully grasp the concept and help those who suffer from mental illnesses. Thankfully, everyone acknowledges this fact and is taking a step in the right direction.
“Byron was someone who talked about his struggles to help make room for others to the same,” said Twitch in an official statement. “As we process this loss, we have to recognize that the stigma around mental health and treatment often prevents people from seeking and getting the help they need.”
However, while Reckful’s struggle to reconcile with his depression was probably the main reason why he committed suicide, there were other catalysts at play too.
The catalyst behind Reckful’s suicide
Before his death, Reckful had posted a series of tweets on his account. One of those was him proposing to his ex-girlfriend, Becca Cho. He then posted another tweet that said, “Ahh, I feel bad for anyone who has to deal with my insanity. Please just know in these situations the insane person does not feel in control of their actions.”
ahh, i feel bad for anyone who has to deal with my insanity
— Reckful (@Byron) July 2, 2020
And, while he waited for the reply to his proposal tweet, trolls had already found their way to his account. Foul-mouthed Twitter users hiding behind the guise of anonymity started spewing vile insults at Reckful, making fun of him for being rejected (which wasn’t even true) in front of everyone else. This probably fueled what would have already been a hard day for him, as he alluded to in his tweets.
There was no lack of support from Reckful’s friends either. Many of them later shared screenshots of them reaching out to help him after reading his tweets. However, he just seemed to dismiss their messages and said that he was doing fine. Maybe it was already too late by that point and the last straw had already been pulled.
Later, Becca Cho posted a note on her Twitter stating that she just didn’t see the proposal until it was too late. She later went on to cite the importance of checking up on your friends regularly and also called for better support for those suffering due to mental illnesses.
RIP july 2, 2020
— Becca (@BeccaTILTS) July 2, 2020
However, while Byron had been the victim of suicidal tendencies before, one can’t help but think that maybe all of this could have been prevented had those appalling replies not been posted under his tweet.
Understanding that mere words can be impactful
It is time that we start to realize that whatever we say or do can have a massive impact on someone else. The fact that people can sit behind a screen and say whatever they want without consequences is one of the biggest reasons for such grave situations.
You never know what someone is going through and even the slightest of harsh language can sometimes push that person over the edge. In addition to that, surely it is not very hard to refrain from saying something to someone if it is not nice. The world is already dark and unpleasant right now, so adding even more negativity into it definitely doesn’t achieve anything good.
Calling out cyber-bullies and holding them accountable for their actions is just as important as raising awareness for mental health. Hopefully, platforms like Twitter can learn from this and inject some form of accountability into their system to prevent such tragedies from happening in the future.
There is already way too much negativity in the world and everyone you see is going through something bad. We obviously cannot know what everyone’s problems are and try to fix it all. However, what we can do is try to be nice to each other and add a bit of positivity to this already gloomy world. So, be kind to your family, to your friends, to the people around you, and most importantly, to yourself.
If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.