Prominent WoW and Hearthstone streamer Reckful has died at 31

(Image credit: Byron Bernstein)

World of Warcraft and Hearthstone streamer Byron 'Reckful' Bernstein died by suicide today, as confirmed by multiple sources. A Twitter user named Blue, reportedly an ex-partner of Berstein, announced his death in a series of tweets. The news was also confirmed by his roommate, as reported by esports insider Rod 'Slasher' Breslau. Bernstein was 31 years old.

Bernstein was one of Twitch's first big streamers. He first gained recognition in 2009 for competitive World of Warcraft PvP, where he claimed the highest ranked spot in PvP for six consecutive seasons. Later, Bernstein switched to competitive Hearthstone, where he played and casted professional matches. Over the years, he was also the subject of controversy. His Twitch account was temporarily suspended earlier this year after a series of livestreams violated unspecified rules in Twitch's code of conduct. More famously, Bernstein was also permanently banned from World of Warcraft for sharing his account.

Bernstein's struggle with mental illness was also well known and something he discussed frequently. The streamer spoke about being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and battles with depression, and even livestreamed conversations with psychiatrist Dr. Alok Kanojia. Though Bernstein hadn't livestreamed in almost a month, he remained active on social media. Hours before his reported death, Bernstein posted a series of tweets including one which reads "ahh, i feel bad for anyone who has to deal with my insanity."

In light of Bernstein's death, many of the biggest names in the Twitch community have taken to Twitter. "I've dreaded this day could possibly come," wrote actor and comedian Andy Milonakis in a tweet. "RIP Byron, I love you."

"This isn't a 'Fuck 2020' moment," wrote Twitch head of creator development Marcus Graham. "This is a 'we need to pay attention to mental health' and 'we need better resources in the gaming/streaming community' moment. Yes 2020 SUCKS, but that's even more reason for us to recognize and combat the stigmas around mental health. RIP BYRON." 

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If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US), Crisis Services Canada (CA), Samaritans (UK), or Lifeline (AUS). If you are outside of these regions, check this list for a hotline in your country. 

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.