Just hours after posting a video on TikTok about “dying young”, social media star Cooper Noriega was found dead at 19 years old in Burbank, California on Thursday 9 June.
Noriega, who appeared as a guest on the Barstool’s BFF’s podcast with Dave Portnoy, Josh Richards and Bri Chickenfry shortly before his death, had recently spoken candidly on online about his struggles with addiction and mental health.
This is everything we know so far about what happened.
Who was Cooper Noriega?
Noriega was a 19-year-old TikTok star with more than 1.8 million followers on the platform. He joined the app in 2019 and quickly built an audience with his comedy, skateboarding and lip-synching videos.
From there, Noriega made a YouTube channel, where he has over 56,000 subscribers, as well as more than 89,000 followers on Twitter and 430,000 followers on Instagram.
On his Instagram account, Noriega described himself as a fashion model.
What did he say about mental health?
Online, Noriega would often talk openly about his struggles with mental health and addiction.
In the days prior to his death, Noriega announced on Instagram that he had created a group on Discord for people to talk about their experiences with their mental health.
He posted: “I’ve been struggling with addiction since I was nine years old, you might think that’s crazy, but that’s the life I’ve been dealt.
“I would like to use the influence I’ve been given to create a space built on spreading awareness and normalising talking about mental illness. My goal is to eventually open a rehab where people aren’t traumatised at the end of their recovery, and where the staff members are trusted people.
“One of the many things I’ve learnt whilst struggling with addiction was that surrounding yourself with negative people will only bring you down.
“For that reason, this discord is meant to bring us all together and create a safe space where people can vent and help others through their tough times.”
In January 2021, Noriega tweeted about a near “overdose/suicide attempt” he had experienced that had led to him getting clean.
He wrote: “90 days clean!! its been hard but so much beauty during this process, its also crazy that 4 months ago i was at such a low point, I had a deadly overdose/suicide attempt on fent, when I stopped breathing and was rushed to the ER, luckily someone found me before it was to late:)”
When did he die?
According to the Los Angeles Medical Examiner-Coroner, Noriega was found dead in a car park in Burbank, California, on Thursday 9 June.
The Coroner’s Office said that he was found on the 500 block of North First Street in Burbank.
According to TMZ, which first reported the news, law enforcement officers found Noriega unconscious after passerbys made a 911 call.
The outlet reported that a source said that paramedics arrived on the scene, but were unable to revive Noriega.
An LA Medical Examiner-Coroner spokesperson told People that Noriega’s cause of death has been deferred, which means “that after an autopsy, a cause of death has not been determined and the medical examiner is requesting more investigation”.
The spokesperson said: “Once the tests/studies come back, the doctor evaluates the case again and makes the cause of death determination.”
Just hours prior to his death, Cooper posted a video to his TikTok account of himself lying in bed with the caption: “Who else b thinking they gon die young [as f**k]”.
What has his family said?
On Sunday (12 June), Noriega’s sister posted on his Instagram account on behalf of his family, following his death.
She wrote: “Hi everyone. On behalf of our family we want to thank you all for the kind words of our little coop. His passing is an absolute tragedy to our family and loved ones.
“We pray that we all as a community can continue his legacy. He loved each and every one of you.
“People feel free to reach out to us as we love feeling all the support.
“Bless you all… with love, his sister.”
Noriega’s father, Harold, also shared a statement on Facebook, in which he wrote: “Today has been an incredibly difficult time for my family and me. We lost our beautiful 19-year-old Cooper last evening. He was loved by so many and truly the love of Treva’s, Parker’s and my life.
“There are not 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 has touched so many people. He recently started a chat on Discord which grew to thousands for those to have a safe place to talk about mental health.
“My boy was a believer and I know he is in the presence of God. Thank you everyone. I love you all.”
What did Nessa Barrett say?
Following the news of Noriega’s death, fellow TikTok star Nessa Barrett posted a lengthy statement to Instagram addressing his passing.
She wrote, in full: “i’ve spent the past two days trying to comprehend how this could be real. there’s simply no way of processing the loss of ur best friend. i’ve been trying to understand how life could possibly still have meaning with u gone. a part of me died with u.
“but what’s left of me is going to live for u. i’ll spend the rest of my life finishing everything we’ve ever dreamed of. i want to make u proud. u had the biggest heart i’ve ever encountered on this earth. a heart way too big for u to even carry. for so long it was u and me just simply keeping each other alive. our bond was like no other.
“no one understood me the way u did. u saved me. u saved so many people. it broke my heart knowing how much pain u carried when u were such a light to this world. i’ve always been so amazed by ur strength and how u carried ur self. even in ur darkest times u were nothing but the kindest and most caring human being.
“u were heaven sent cooper. i’m convinced god sends angels to walk this earth to help heal people and u were one of them. u were always my guardian angel. i’m living everyday for u. it’s all for u.
“i can’t wait to see u again my sweet boy. my best friend forever, rest in peace. 444.”
Amongst those also posting tributes to the young social media star is Noriega’s ex-girlfriend Sabrina ‘Sab’ Quesada.
Quesada posted on Instagram an album of pictures of the two of them, and wrote in the caption: “the light of my life, you’re the best thing that ever happened to me.
“i’m so sorry my love.
“may we meet again.”
It was announced in April of this year that Quesada and Noriega had broken up, having celebrated their one year anniversary the previous October.
At the time, Quesada said that it was a “mutual decision” to split.
She wrote on her Instagram story: “We’re just young and sometimes thing just don’t work out the way you want them to.
“I will love him forever and he will always be my best friend.”
Where those struggling can get help
For those in the UK that are struggling with their mental health, there is a wide variety of resources available that can help, such as:
- Anxiety UK, which you can phone from Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 5:30pm, on 034444 775 774
- CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), provides support for men aged 15 to 35. Their lines are open daily between 5pm to midnight, and you can get in touch by phoning 0800 58 58 58
- Samaritans has a 24 hour helpline available at 116 123
- Mind, whose phone lines are open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm on 0300 123 3393