Josh Seiter is “alive and well,” the Bachelorette star announced Tuesday, just hours after a phony death statement was posted to his Instagram account. Now, the 36-year-old claims a hacker was the culprit behind the fake announcement.
“As you can see, I am alive and well,” Seiter said in a video posted to his Instagram. “My account was hacked, for the last 24 hours I have been trying desperately to get into it.”
Seiter said the hacker played a “cruel joke” when posting the announcement, making light of his public struggles with mental health.
“Somebody was playing a cruel joke and mocking my mental illness and the struggles I’ve gone through with depression and suicide attempts,” he said. “I’m sorry for all the pain they caused when they made that post.”
Just days before the fake statement, Seiter made a reference to his mental health in the caption of another post.
“Surviving depression and anxiety one day at a time with a smile,” he said at the time.
Four days later, a lengthy announcement was posted to his feed, announcing his “unexpected passing” with “an extremely heavy heart.”
“As all who knew him can attest, Joshua was an incredibly bright light in an increasingly dim world,” the statement said. “His fearless voice and indomitable spirit helped thousands of people in their darkest moments feel just a little less alone. Although our heartache at Joshua’s passing pains us beyond measure, we find comfort in knowing that he is finally at peace.”
The statement has since been deleted, and Seiter posted his response video about 20 hours later. Now that he appears to have his account back, Seiter said he’s working to figure out who was behind the apparent hack.
“I’m going to do all I can with my team to try to identify who was behind this,” he said Tuesday. “But again, I apologize for the confusion.”
The situation draws some eerie parallels to that of Lil Tay, the teenage ex-influencer who also had a phony death statement posted to her Instagram account earlier this month. Tay’s death announcement was later claimed to be a hack, too, but the details remain unclear.
Seiter appeared as a contestant on the 2015 season of The Bachelorette, where he was eliminated in the show’s first week.