TikTok, with its trends, catchy edited music and skits, is in a league of its own right now. Miles ahead in the “what young people prefer” polls, the app has an established set of original stars under its belt. Think the D’Amelio girls, Addison Rae, Bella Poarch and Khaby Lame.
An unavoidable part of TikTok’s history, however, are the original stars who have tragically passed away in the last year. Some of them not even out of adolescence. In 2021 alone, we lost the likes of Dazharia Shaffer, Anthony Barajas and Ethan Peters.
These deaths have rocked TikTok and its communities. In some cases, it has encouraged conversation around mental health and the relationship between the creator and the consumer. How we never know how our online idols may be actually feeling behind all the artificial likes.
Below is a list of some of the TikTok stars that we sadly lost over the last year.
Eliane Ferreira Siolin
Social media seems to be an alternate universe full of smiles and sunny weather, but it has a dark side that few talk about - a side Brazilian influencer Eliane Ferreira Siolin tragically experienced. After sharing a “revealing” post, her husband, Alejandro Antonio Aguilera Cantallupi, shot and killed her in January 2021. As noted by the New York Post, a police spokesperson, Analu Ferraz, revealed that the couple were known to fight “a lot, even in public.”
Siolin, 35, was shot 14 times and was killed in front of her young daughter, 6, while they were attending a family barbeque. Cantallupi then fatally shot himself once in the head. After this tragedy, the couple’s young daughter was reportedly “taken in” by family members. Siolin had 84,000 followers on TikTok, and had amassed about 272,000 likes at the time of her death.
Timbo the Redneck
As mentioned before, some TikToker’s take the form of stuntmen in order to gain a following one the app. One such TikToker, Timbo the Redneck, was an 18 year old creator who was tragically killed in a driving stunt. Timbo, or Timothy Hall, was at his friend’s home in Florida, performing donuts - a vehicular act that involves ” the driver whipping their vehicle in small circles while accelerating” - when he was thrown from the truck’s driver side window. The truck then crashed on top of him.
Hall’s future brother-in-law, Tony, took to YouTube to recall the incident that took his life. “His whole body, that truck landed on top of him,” Tony said. “He’s passed away.” Hall’s mother, Tessie, also shared a video to the creator’s TikTok page, breaking the news to his followers. “My son was in a bad accident yesterday and didn’t make it and I want to thank everybody for all the fans that he had,” she said.
Alexis Sharkey was a 26-year-old who took to TikTok and other social media platforms to share content from her travels and life experiences. She amassed 87,000 followers on Instagram and 84,000 followers and 1.3 million likes on TikTok at the time of her tragic death. On November 28, 2020, Sharkey’s body was found amongst brush on the side of the road in Houston, Texas. Her murder - ruled as death by strangulation - remains unsolved.
Sadly, no one has been arrested in connection to the murder at the time of writing, with criminal defense attorney Tom Berg claiming prosecutors are taking their time to ensure that the right suspect is found. “Simply closing the case quickly is not necessarily justice. You might have the right person but you might not,” he said. “There can be a lot of pressure to resolve a case quickly. In our society, we want quick resolutions because, in television, you can solve these cases in an hour or less even with commercial breaks.”
TikTok has allowed amazing dance trends, songs, and performances to go viral, and as such, it’s harnessed some amazing creators along the way. Matima Miller, better known as Swavy, gained over 520,000 followers on Instagram and 3.7 million followers on TikTok thanks his jaw-dropping dance videos. He was senselessly killed in July 2021 after being “gunned down in broad daylight” while in Wilmington, Delaware.
YouTube creator Damaury “Kid Maury” Mikula led the tributes posting an emotional video to his channel. “He got shot,” Mikula says, wiping tears from his eyes. “All he did was make videos - vids, vids, vids, vids, going up, up, up, up.”
It’s no surprise that social media can come with extreme side effects in terms of mental health. But it was still shocking to learn Siya Kakkar had died by suicide. Kakkar was a well known dancer with over 1.1 million followers on the app.
In spite of this energetic exterior, the young creator took her own life at just 16 years old. Her manager, Arjun Sarin, told India Today that her death was “due to something personal,” as her work and career were just taking off. “I had a word with her last night for a new project and she sounded normal,” Sarin said. “Siya was a bright talent. I am heading to her home in Preet Vihar.”
Xiao Quimei, like Timbo the Redneck, was a TikTok creator willing to put their body on line in the name of entertainment. Tragically, she also met a fatal end as a result of her hobby. Qiumei, a 23-year-old creator from China, plummeted to her death while trying to record a video for her 100,000 followers. She became the second TikTok star in China to fall to their death while trying to film content.
In the video, Qiumei was speaking to her camera while sitting in the cabin of a crane only for the image to become blurry as bars fly in and out of frame. Mei fell 160 feet from the crane’s cabin to her death, and eyewitnesses even testified that her phone was still in her hand when she died. Mei reportedly had two children.
Black Girl Rahm
Though every entry on this list is bad, the case of Black Girl Rahm, is particularly gut-wrenching. This 30-year-old creator had nearly 800,000 followers on Douyin, the Chinese version of the app. Her videos detailing life in Sichuan, China, and her charming demeanour won over the hearts of many users.
One night, when Ram was at home, her ex-husband reportedly barged in and began attacking her in front of members of her family. He then reportedly set Ram on fire, all while the incident was being streamed live. The vicious attack left Ram with burns that covered approximately 90% of her body. She spent 16 days in a coma before losing her life. Ram’s ex-husband had a history of domestic violence, and was later arrested on suspicion of intentional homicide.
The TikTok world was devastated by the death of John Kelly, a jolly creator who died suddenly at the age of 45. Kelly’s death was a shock to his whole family, and his son, Tex, wrote on a GoFundMe page that the family would be “feeling the toll of [his death] for a very long time.” The two often made content together.
“There was never a negative moment with him or a conversation that didn’t end with ‘I love you,'” Tex, who did not reveal more details about his father’s passing, said. “Dad was 45 years old when he passed but I’ll tell ya, that man lived it with no regrets and he made sure to get the most out of every day. He’d give you his last dollar and the clothes on his back if he knew you needed it.”
Gabriel Salzar was a 19-year-old TikTok star who died while transporting undocumented immigrants from Mexico. Tailed by police, the chase ended in a deadly crash.
Salazar left behind over a million TikTok followers in the wake of his death. The other undocumented immigrants also died on the spot as Salazar lost control of the wheel and hit several trees, causing the car to roll over and catch fire.
DJ Tunzaphun, AKA Neil Almeida, was a Florida-based TikToker who was best known for his weight loss videos that were made through a light-hearted lense. He died suddenly on August 2, 2022.
Almeida started life on TikTok weighing over 700 pounds but had managed to reduce it to under 300 pounds. The TikTok star had 1.6M likes and 110.1K followers on the app.
Born Valdir Segato, the “Brazilian Hulk” was pronounced dead on his 55th birthday. According to his landlords nearby, Segato had complained that he was experiencing shortness of breath around 6am. “He came crawling through the back house and came to the front,” Moisés da Conceição da Silva told Globo, “Then he knocked on my mother’s window, knocked, knocked, then she woke up and he said, ‘Help me, help me because I’m dying.”’ He was subsequently rushed to hospital where his condition only worsened on arrival.
Segato was known to use injections shape or enhance muscles. Although his cause of death is officially unknown, his use of the site enhancement oil known as synthol - a highly dangerous liquid that he had been administering to himself for years to bulk up - likely contributed to his death.
Gia Pastion’s family revealed she had passed away at the age of 19 last month, making the tragic announcement on social media. “It is with great sadness that we, the family of Gia Pastion announce her sudden passing on June 11th, 2022,” read the post on the young influencer’s Instagram. “We invite you to honour and celebrate Gia’s life.”
Pastion boasted nearly 50,000 followers on TikTok, where she shared sketches and cooking videos. In her final video, posted the day before her death, Pastion announced that she would publish a week’s worth of food videos. Pastion stated she needed help with the menu for her upcoming food truck project, asking fans to share their favourite pizza toppings. Fellow creators and fans of the star flooded her comments section with condolences after hearing of her devastating death. “Gia is a phenomenal, talented soul that inspires thousands, her legacy will continue as she’s made so many of us proud,” one user wrote.
This TikTok star was found unconscious in a shopping centre car park outside of Los Angeles after a passer-by called 911. According to the Los Angeles Medical Examiner-Coroner’s office, Noriega was pronounced dead at the scene in California. His family has spoken out about his passing, with father Harold Noriega, sharing an gut-wrenching statement on his Facebook saying, “There are no words to express the grief and loss. It’s not supposed to be this way. Your child is not supposed to pass before his parents.”
Cooper’s sister Parker Noriega also posted on her brother’s account with a message from her family thanking followers for the kind words about “little coop” and speaking about carrying on his legacy. Meanwhile, mum Treva Noriega, wrote a post on Instagram about her son’s death, saying, “My heart is forever broken but your my special angel and we have each other’s hearts.” Noriega’s cause of death has not yet been determined.
Rochelle “Roe” Hager was a 31-year-old TikTok star known for spearheading conversations about LGBTQ+ equality. She was tragically killed when a pine tree crashed into her SUV while she was driving through Farmington, Maine. At the time of the accident, she was on the phone with her fiancée Brittanie Lynn Ritchie. “It happened really quick,” Ritchie later said of the accident and the conversation that was taking place at the time. “She has a phone mounted in her vent. I just heard a crash and then there was nothing. She didn’t see the tree coming. It was instant.”
Ritchie eventually took to social media to address the horrific accident, thanking supporters for their “overwhelming support” on TikTok. “She wasn’t in pain,” Ritchie said. “She died instantly. I heard the crash and then there was nothing.”
Some TikTok tragedies have the capacity to hit a certain community more than others. One such tragedy that broke the hearts of the makeup and beauty community on TikTok was the death of Ethan Peters, known on social media as Ethan Is Supreme. The creator was just 17 years old when he passed. Peters’ father attested that his son was a “kind soul, who accepted everyone for who they were.” Peters had amassed over 500,000 followers and was known for his startling makeup designs and “dramatic,” “emotional,” and “gory” looks.
Fellow influencer Ava Louise shared on Instagram that Peters was her “best friend in the entire world,” and her feeling of loss was echoed by other makeup professionals that valued the young creator. Manny MUA also paid tribute to Peters, despite a rocky past.
Not only was TikTok shocked by the death of Anthony Barajas, but the entire world. The creator, who had almost 1 million followers, was shot and killed at a screening of “The Forever Purge” film. Barajas attended the film with friend Rylee Goodrich when a 20-year-old man, Joseph Jimenez, entered the screening and shot them both. Barajas and Goodrich were 19 and 18, respectively.
Jimenez was taken into custody shortly thereafter, as police found a firearm at his home that was a match to the gun used in the shooting. He faced charges including murder, attempted murder, and robbery, and was held in jail on a $2 million bail. Police later said the attack was “unprovoked.” A GoFundMe page was set up to help Barajas’ family pay for medical bills. On the page, he was described as an “amazing brother, son, and friend.” It continued: “Anthony was the light of so many [people’s] lives and there are tough times ahead, but we have amazing family and friends to get through this.”
Dazharia Shaffer was among the app’s younger creators. She tragically died at just 18 years old. Her father implied in a statement that the cause of death was suicide. Shaffer had 1.7 million followers on TikTok, and had amassed nearly 210,000 followers on Instagram. “She was so happy, and would be so excited to see me when I come home from being on the road,” he wrote on a GoFundMe page about Shaffer’s death. “I only wish she would have spoken to me about her stress and the thoughts of suicide. We could work thru this.”
He later took to TikTok to share photos of his Shaffer, and took the opportunity to thank those who followed her for their “love and support.” Later, he added that he “wasn’t prepared” to “bury [his] child.”
During his tragically short lifetime, Huey Haha created short video sketches online, accumulating hundreds of thousands of followers on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. The Sacramento County Coroner’s Office determined that Huey died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in October 2021. He was 22 years old. “Rest In Peace to Huey Ha,” a post shared to his Instagram account read. “Huey Ha passed away October 25, 2021. He loved and appreciated every single one of his supporters.” A GoFundMe page was set up to cover costs of the funeral and to support Huey’s 2-year-old daughter Princess. Huey’s friends also took to social media to pay their respects.
“Used to saying RIP but this hurt the most,” Coby Jdn and HypeBoii wrote on Instagram. “We always hated comedy cuz all people see is laughs, not what we hadda do or go through. They already took the fun out the comedy but now its not gon be the same without you. We love you brother see you in the future @hueyhaha.” “Huey always made our day whenever he would put out his comedy,” the account Thizzler on the Roof, which focuses on music in the Bay Area, tweeted. “We want to send our condolences to his family & loved ones.”
Katelyn Ballman, AKA @itskatieeebee, was a budding TikTok star and social media influencer who garnered a significant online following and had nearly 75K followers on the app. Her videos amassed almost 1.5 million likes. She passed away on September 29, 2021 at the age of just 27. The news of her demise was confirmed by her aunt Saundra Mae-Lynn on Facebook
She wrote: “It is with the extraordinary misery and most extreme bitterness that I need to report that my niece Katelyn Ballman just 27 years of age has out of nowhere demised. She was funny, amusing and a caring mother.” The post added, “I did not hear from here regularly yet she used to call me sometimes. Nothing to the extent I know thinks about the justification for her demise. on the off chance that you realize Brenda Herbers made a get in touch with her for additional data. Sympathies with her and her family and invigorate bear this insufferable aggravation.”