In the depths of the internet, there exists a community that challenges societal norms and tests the boundaries of morality – the infamous subreddit, r/WatchPeopleDie or watch people dying. This digital space, shrouded in controversy, delves into the macabre, showcasing videos of real-life deaths.

In this article, we dissect the origins, evolution, and societal impact of this subreddit, examining the complex motivations that draw users to such disturbing content.

The Rise of Morbid Curiosity

A Historical Perspective

The human fascination with death is not a recent phenomenon. Dr. Gail Saltz, an associate professor of psychiatry, contends that sadistic, masochistic, and voyeuristic urges are inherent in humanity. However, it is the technological advancements of recent decades that have catapulted the spectatorship of death into the mainstream.

Forty years ago, “Faces of Death,” a controversial film, offered a glimpse into the horrors of real-life deaths, sparking intrigue. With the advent of digital cameras and the internet in the 1990s, shock sites like emerged, providing a platform for millions to witness gruesome content.

The Birth of Watch People Die

In 2012, against this backdrop, r/WatchPeopleDie was born. Initially existing in relative obscurity, the subreddit gained notoriety in March when Motherboard reported its link to a video of an 18-year-old’s tragic suicide, raising ethical concerns.

Reddit, grappling with the potential violation of its terms of service, took the controversial step of taking watch people dying offline. The question loomed: Was the subreddit encouraging violence, glorifying death, or serving a different purpose?

Unraveling the Subreddit’s Intent

Drifting Into the Shadows

Watch people dying claims to be more than a gruesome spectacle. Its front page declares a mission to “observe and contemplate the disturbing reality of death.” Supporters argue it serves as a documentation rather than a glorification of death.

Dr. Saltz challenges this claim, deeming it a “debatable point.” While some argue the subreddit offers a sobering perspective on life’s fragility, others question the genuine benefits of regularly exposing oneself to such grisly content.

The Psychology Behind the Screen

A Glimpse into Viewer Motivations

No scholarly study has focused on watch people dying specifically, but Sue Tait identifies distinct “spectatorial positions” among viewers of similar content. These include an amoral gaze, a vulnerable gaze, an entitled gaze, and a responsive gaze, each with varying degrees of ethical implications.

The top posts on the subreddit, featuring deaths that are undeniably real, prompt questions about the purported benefits of observing such traumatic content. Dr. Roxane Cohen Silver, a psychology professor, expresses skepticism about any psychological benefits derived from repeated exposure to such trauma.

Voices from Within the Community

Justifications and Rationalizations

As the subreddit faced scrutiny, one moderator made a call to the community, seeking insights from its members. Responses varied, with some defending the subreddit as a means to appreciate life’s preciousness. The narrative of “sometimes you have to watch someone die to appreciate being alive” echoed through the discussions.

However, juxtaposed against the explicit titles like “Knife-wielding man pulling the intestines out of a woman,” these justifications seem, to many, insincere and hollow. The subreddit’s claim to a positive, utilitarian mission is called into question.

Moderators and Their Perspective

Humanizing the Curators

The moderators of watch people dying, often portrayed as enablers of disturbing content, share a different perspective. One, identified as GoreFox, believes the community comprises mostly ordinary individuals with mundane jobs, challenging the notion that the subreddit is a haven for deviant behavior.

While quarantined by Reddit in a policy update, the subreddit faced further criticism. Moderators perceived this as a slow death sentence, sparking a heated debate on the platform’s evolving nature.


In the shadows of the internet, r/WatchPeopleDie stands as a testament to humanity’s complex relationship with morbidity. As the subreddit grapples with controversy and policy changes, it raises fundamental questions about the ethics of online content consumption, the psychological impact on viewers, and the evolving landscape of digital platforms.

The debate surrounding this community serves as a microcosm of broader discussions on freedom, morality, and the responsibility of online platforms in shaping our collective digital experience.