YouTube Stars We Lost Too Soon – The List

Ahh, YouTube. How many hours have we spent lost in your depths, each click sending us deeper into the internet’s rabbit holes? Countless, probably — especially since YouTube stars make close to $20 million per year. According to Forbes, the top 10 YouTubers of 2018 earned an aggregate $180.5 million — that’s a lot of clicks. But how do YouTube stars make so much money? Why do we love their content so much that brands pay them literal millions to sell us stuff?

The connection. Social media, like Twitter, Instagram, and all the rest, make us feel connected to the people we see on our screens, as if they were our friends in real life. This is especially true of YouTubers; these internet stars give in-depth looks into their daily lives — they often show viewers their bathrooms, for goodness’ sake — from skincare routines to intimate details about their creative processes, all in high definition. 

Simply put, the biggest YouTube stars feel like they’re our friends. So, just like when a friend dies, the death of a YouTuber is immensely painful. These famous YouTube stars were friends to their millions of viewers and were, sadly, lost far too soon.

YouTube star Talia Castellano lost her battle with two different cancers in 2013

Talia Joy Castellano was an inspiring YouTube star and honorary CoverGirl who died much too soon because of childhood cancer. Her official Facebook page details her incredible story, beginning with her neuroblastoma diagnosis when she was just 7 years old. Then, in August of 2012, Castellano was also diagnosed with MDS preleukemia. 

However, the lighthearted little girl didn’t want to let cancer run her life, so she started doing makeup tutorials and posting them on YouTube to be a happy voice of children with cancer. She became famous for using makeup to feel beautiful even when she lost her hair from chemotherapy, using the catchphrase, “Makeup is My Wig.” 

Castellano became so popular on YouTube that she was named an Honorary CoverGirl by Ellen Degeneres on The Ellen Show in 2012. Additionally, Today‘s Facebook post about Castellano was also the publication’s most “liked” post of the year, topping out at 897,746 likes. But, sadly, Castellano “earned her wings” in 2013 when she was just 13 years old. According to her Facebook page, she wanted “to leave her footprints, and handprints” on this world, which she most certainly achieved.

YouTube star Rich Piana died of heart disease in 2017

Rich Piana was famous for his go-big-or-go-home workout style, showcasing his massive muscles and expert bodybuilding tips for over a million YouTube subscribers. Unfortunately, his “whatever it takes” mindset was just a symptom of a common bodybuilder body dysmorphia nicknamed “bigorexia.” Piana detailed his struggle with the disorder in a 2015 interview with Bios3training‘s Jerry Ward, saying that he’s had trouble with his body image since he was a child: “You know, we look in the mirror and we look small, and we see a picture of us and [we’re] like…’I didn’t realize I was that big.'” And big he was. The bodybuilding YouTuber was 6’1” and over 300 pounds — a weight he achieved through his open use of anabolic steroids and human growth hormones. 

Sadly, Piana’s steroid abuse might have caused his death. People reported that the YouTube star collapsed close to his Florida home in August of 2017, was placed in a medically-induced coma, and died two weeks later. The autopsy report detailed that Piana suffered from an enlarged heart and hardened arteries — both of which, according to Men’s Health, are common symptoms of steroid abuse.

YouTube star Emily Hartridge was hit by a truck in 2019

Emily Hartridge had a moderately-sized YouTube channel in comparison to other YouTube stars, clocking in at about 350,000 followers on her YouTube channel, she was a hit with the Brits for satirical, laugh-out-loud videos like, “10 Reasons Why Being Beautiful is Annoying” and “10 Reasons Why…Being Bisexual is Awesome” The cheeky Englishwoman joined YouTube all the way back in 2007, quickly collecting views until they reached the millions. Her goal? “To make you laugh and also throw in a bit of honesty because…life is JUST too short.” 

And, sadly, her’s was. As reported by The Guardian, Hartridge was out riding her electric scooter in London when she was hit by a truck. She didn’t survive the accident, and passed away at the young age of 35. Additionally, her many fans were shocked by both the news and the way it was delivered; when her normal content wasn’t uploaded, they checked Instagram to find a heartbreaking post that read, “Emily was involved in an accident yesterday and passed away… We all loved her to bits and she will never be forgotten.”

YouTube star Steve Cash took his own life in 2020

Some people like cats, others don’t. But Steve Cash? He loved them. He loved cats so much that he created a YouTube empire built on the simple yet very true concept that talking cats are funny. Cash’s first video, a viral sensation that garnered 10 million views after being posted in 2008, featured his kitten Sylvester acting as a grumpy roommate (voiced by Cash). But he didn’t stop there! Talking Kitty Cat became a true hit with other videos featuring different cats in various (hilarious) scenarios. Cash’s channel had over 2.6 million subscribers, but then it all came crashing down.

In April of 2020, fans were stunned to learn that Cash took his own life. Celia DeCosta, Cash’s wife, shared the news in a heartbreaking Facebook post. “I’m so sad to say, my husband, Steve Cash took his own life this morning,” she wrote. As per a report from People, first responders found the YouTube star dead in his home from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 40 years old.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

YouTube star Etika ended his life in 2019

Desmond Amofa, better known by his YouTube name Etika, was an internet hit because of his charismatic smile, silly charm, and his openly nerdy love of Nintendo. Etika’s account had more than 130,000 subscribers, all looking to devour content like the young man comically ripping off his shirt, or having overly-enthusiastic reactions. But his most popular videos were all about gaming. Luke Finnigan, an Etika fan, told CNN that the YouTuber, “pioneered YouTube Gaming and put the platform on the map.” 

However, in June of 2019 when he was 29 years old, Etika vanished. All he left behind were his cell phone, clothing, and driver’s license on the Manhattan Bridge. In a since-deleted video, the YouTube star said, “I hope that my story maybe helps to make YouTube a better place in the future where people know boundaries and limits and how far things should go.” As reported by the New York Post, his body was found in the East River later that day, and his death was officially ruled a suicide.

 If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

The King of Random died in a paragliding accident in 2019

Grant Thompson, AKA “The King of Random”, took YouTube by storm, snagging over 12 million subscribers and almost three billion views. Why was he so popular? His “About” page describes his content as “all kinds of life hacks, experiments, and random weekend projects,” but his videos might be more accurately described as a DIYer’s enthusiastic, albeit somewhat crazed dreamworld. 

The King of Random was very random indeed, posting tutorials on opening coconuts without tools, making LEGO gummy candy, and infusing broccoli with root beer. He even taught his followers how to make laser-guided blowguns for only $3. Dangerous and economical. 

Unfortunately, Thompson’s cooky adventures came to an abrupt and devastating end in July of 2019 when he was 38 years old. The New York Times reported that the YouTube star had been paragliding (almost like hang-gliding but with a big parachute), when the Utah authorities received word of an “overdue” pilot. Helicopter search teams found you YouTube star’s body using GPS coordinates from his phone. They also found footage of the crash that reportedly shows a wind shift collapsing Thompson’s chute and his backup chute failing to deploy.

YouTube star Greg Plitt was struck by a train in 2015

Greg Plitt was, according to his website bio, “undisputedly America’s #1 male fitness model.” A West Point graduate and Army Ranger, Plitt used his big muscles and motivational skills to build a personal fitness and life-coach empire. While he graced the cover of fitness magazines every single month for five years in a row (wow!) and appeared on the Bravo show Work Out, Plitt was perhaps most famous for his inspirational YouTube montages that documented his real-life workouts, fitness knowledge, and even a few recipes here and there. 

But, in January 2015, Plitt’s inspiring life was cut short when he was killed by a train. According to The Wrap, Plitt was shooting a video of him running on the train tracks when a passenger locomotive struck him in an accident that the rail service’s spokesperson described as “very preventable.” Plitt’s friend Warren Coulter told the Los Angeles Times that, “he just made a mistake,” despite sources cited by TMZ claiming that the YouTube star was intentionally racing the train. No matter what the cause, the accident was tragic as it took Greg Plitt when he was only 37 years old.

YouTube star Tai Couture took his own life in 2019

Tai Couture, née Tyree Williams, was a prime example of a YouTube star connecting to fans on a deeper level. He referred to his channel as a “church”, speaking passionately in videos about a range of topics from his romantic relationships to celeb drama like the Jussie Smollett scandal. But it wasn’t just his hot takes that drew attention — Couture was well-known for his love of dramatic mesh shirts. 

Despite his vivacious personality, Williams lived a difficult life. In one YouTube video, he detailed his struggles with mental and physical health after a serious car accident in 2015 left him hospitalized and briefly unable to walk. The long recovery was “emotional torment” for the influencer. Couture also revealed in a 2018 video that he was battling suicidal thoughts. But it wasn’t until 2019 that, as reported by Queerty, Couture acted on those thoughts and took his own life. Couture’s family shared a touching video of his “home going celebration” that was truly a celebration of his amazing life.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

YouTube star Christina Grimmie was shot in 2016

Though Christina Grimmie shot to worldwide fame on The Voice with her jaw-dropping cover of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball”, she’d been capturing hearts for years with her incredible singing videos on YouTube. Since she joined the platform in 2009, Grimmie amassed close to four million followers with soulful videos of piano covers, silly lip-syncs, and hair tutorials of her signature rocker look. According to her website bio, the YouTube star went on to win third place on The Voice, release an EP that debuted at number two on iTunes, and open for Selena Gomez on two national tours. 

But sadly, the superstar in the making was taken from the world too soon. Per CNN, Grimmie was signing autographs for fans after a performance in Orlando in 2016 when Kevin Loibl shot and killed her. Loibl was described by his coworkers as “socially awkward” and “having an “unrealistic infatuation with Christina Grimmie,” as he would watch her YouTube videos obsessively. According to TMZ, Loibl took his own life shortly after murdering Grimmie. Christina was only 22 years old. 

YouTube star Stevie Ryan died by suicide in 2017

Stevie Ryan was a comedienne famous for her satirical impressions of celebrities. Her YouTube channel had over 800,000 subscribers tuning in to enjoy videos like her “Hannah Fontana” character (Miley Cyrus’ alter ego), as well as a Maury spoof she called “Maurly”. Ryan’s off-kilter comedy became so popular that VH1 gave her a sketch comedy show, StevieTV, that made fun of popular reality shows like Toddlers & Tiaras.

Even though Ryan’s online persona was all smiles and satire, the YouTube star was battling mental health issues with the help of antidepressants. Mercury News reported that she stopped taking those antidepressants in June of 2017, which was around the same time that she both lost her grandfather and revealed on her Mentally Chill podcast (via Us Weekly) that she was, “worried that [the loss was] going to send [her] into a deeper depression.” Sadly, Ryan lost that battle with mental health and hung herself in her LA home in July of 2017. Ryan was only 33 years old.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

YouTube star TotalBiscuit lost his battle with bowel cancer in 2018

John Bain, better known by his online name TotalBiscuit, was an English man who took to YouTube after he was “laid off from his job at a financial-services firm,” as reported by Variety. His YouTube channel had over 868 million views from 2.2 million followers, thanks to game reviews, critiques of popular games and genres, and advice like “Should You Pre Order Video Games?” all delivered with his elegantly deep British voice. Leave it to the Brits to make even the most scathing critiques feel charming.

But TotalBiscuit’s internet career was cut short when, in 2014, he was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Then, in a heartbreaking video, the YouTube star revealed to fans that though his cancer had metastasized and he needed to take some time off from his channel; he would valiantly return to making his gaming videos while receiving chemotherapy. Unfortunately the treatments failed and he passed away in 2018. His wife announced his death on Twitter, writing, “Rest in peace my Dearest Love.”

YouTube star Aziz Shavershian died from a heart attack in 2011

Aziz Sergeyevich Shavershian, aka “Zyzz”, was a bodybuilder and YouTube influencer who wanted to inspire people to “get into the gym, train hard, party harder, and not take life too seriously,” as per his website bio. The muscled YouTube star moved from Russia to Australia with his older brother, and the pair quickly found solace and companionship in the local gym scene. As reported in The Sydney Morning Herald, Shavershain transformed himself from a “skinny kid” into a bodybuilder. He then wrote a book, promoted supplements, and uploaded hundreds of videos to his YouTube channel all under the guise of his heavily tanned and muscled alter ego, Zyzz.

However, Shavershain’s fitness career came to an abrupt end when, at the age of 22, he died of a heart attack while at a sauna in Bangkok, Thailand. According to his mother, the young man suffered from an undiagnosed heart condition. Shaversaid’s brother, Said Shaversaid, posted a memorial message on his private Facebook page that read, “Rip brother, I love you sooo much… I just hope I wake up tomorrow and this is all a bad dream.”

Dillon the Hacker's cause of death is still unknown

Despite threatening to “hack everything you love” in his YouTube bio, Dillon Henderson, or Dillion the Hacker, was a downright goofy and sweet kid that just loved to be silly. He first became famous in 2014 when he started trolling another famous YouTuber, Pewdiepie. He claimed he stole Pewdiepie’s girlfriend, and eventually declared himself the winner of the one-sided war. Pewdiepie wasn’t too upset about the attacks, as the pair ended up collaborating on a Mr. Robot-inspired video that accrued over 12 million views. 

In fact, it was Pewdiepie that served as one of the few sources for Henderson’s death in 2019, posting a since-deleted tweet (via Metro) that read, “Dillon the hacker was such a talented young comedian … Such sad news to hear about his passing.” Pewdiepie also acknowledged Henderson’s passing in his 2019 rewind video. 

But what happened to Dillon the Hacker? Even big news outlets like Business Insider have been unable to confirm when, where, or even how the YouTube star died. No matter the mystery, his childhood friend BG Kumbi confirmed Henderson’s death in a video, saying “I’m gonna miss [him] like you wouldn’t believe.”

YouTube star Corey La Barrie was killed in a drunk driving accident in 2020

Corey La Barrie was a YouTube star best-known for funny videos of him playing tricks on friends like Zane Hijaz and David Dobrik. Not only was his YouTube channel successful, with over 300,000 subscribers, but he was also involved with another popular channel, Corey & Crawford, that raked in over 100,000 subscribers. But sadly, La Barrie died when he was only 25 years old. 

TMZ broke the news of La Barrie’s death, announcing that he was killed on his way home from a party on his 25th birthday. The outlet reported that Ink Master star Daniel Silva was driving a sports car with La Barrie in the passenger seat when they crashed into a street sign. Authorities were able to extract La Barrie from the car, but he was pronounced DOA at the hospital. La Barrie’s mother, Lissa Harrison, shared the news of her son’s death in an Instagram post, writing “My heart breaks right now, on my son’s 25 birthday today he was very drunk and got into a car with a drunk driver… I love you so much Corey and will miss you so much.”

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