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 (opens in new tab) in a series of tweets. The news was also confirmed by his roommate, as reported (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab). The streamer spoke about being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and battles with depression, and even livestreamed conversations with psychiatrist Dr. Alok Kanojia (opens in new tab). 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab). "RIP Byron, I love you."
"This isn't a 'Fuck 2020' moment," wrote (opens in new tab) 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."
RIP ReckfulI hope this will be a wakeup call to everyone who creates a reward structure around ridiculing and mocking mental illnessWe can be better as a community and we will be better.July 2, 2020
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.