Former “Bachelorette” contestant Josh Seiter posted a video Tuesday confirming that he is “alive and well” after he was falsely pronounced dead on his Instagram page.
Seiter said someone hacked his Instagram account and posted a fake death announcement — which multiple news outlets cited on Monday while reporting that the reality TV star had died at age 36.
“Hey, guys,” Seiter says in the video. “As you can see, I am alive and well. My account was hacked. For the last 24 hours I’ve been trying desperately to get into it.
“Somebody was playing a cruel joke and mocking my mental illness and the struggles I’ve gone through with depression and suicide attempts, and I’m sorry for all the pain they caused when they made that post,” he added. “I just got back into my account. I am going to do all I can with my team to try to identify who was behind this. But again, I apologize for the confusion, and I will update you guys as more facts come in.”
The Times has reached out to Instagram’s parent company, Meta, for more information.
On Monday, a mournful statement written from the perspective of Seiter’s loved ones appeared on the reality TV personality’s Instagram page. The message imparted the “tragic news of Joshua’s unexpected passing” while hailing Seiter’s “fearless voice” and “indomitable spirit” that “helped thousands of people in their darkest moments feel just a little less alone.”
“As all who knew him can attest, Joshua was an incredibly bright light in an increasingly dim world,” the statement read.
“Although our heartache at Joshua’s passing pains us beyond measure, we find comfort in knowing that he is finally at peace. We hope and pray that his spirit can continue to live on in the pictures and words on this page, which we will leave up for the time being. While we do that, we would kindly ask for privacy as we grieve.”
The phony statement — which has since been removed from Seiter’s Instagram grid — also included resources for “anybody who is experiencing a mental health crisis and needs help.” A self-proclaimed “mental health pioneer,” Seiter has been vocal about his mental health struggles and often shares motivational messages on social media in an effort to inspire others who might be struggling.
“Surviving depression and anxiety one day at a time with a smile,” Seiter wrote on Instagram days before his account was allegedly hijacked.
Seiter, a law student and dancer from Chicago, vied for dancer Kaitlyn Bristowe’s heart on the 11th season of “The Bachelorette,” which aired during spring 2015 on ABC. He was eliminated in Week 1, according to Variety.
Since making his “Bachelorette” debut, Seiter has built a sizable following on social media, where he frequently updates hundreds of thousands of followers on his mental health, sobriety and fitness journeys.
The Seiter death hoax occurred less than a month after 14-year-old rapper and social media personality Lil Tay similarly confirmed that she was “safe and alive” after someone hacked her Instagram account and falsely announced that she and her brother were dead.
The teenager alleged that her account was “compromised by a 3rd party” and used to “spread jarring misinformation” about her “sudden and tragic passing.” Meta later confirmed that it helped Lil Tay recover her Instagram account from a hacker.