UPDATED: Utah youth advocate, social media activist Collin Kartchner dies ‘unexpectedly’ at age 40

Collin Kartchner speaks during an evening "Save the Kids" presentation for parents at Cedar High School, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 31, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

ST. GEORGE — Collin Kartchner, an advocate against cyberbullying and a frequent speaker at local schools, died unexpectedly at 40 years old. 

Keynote speaker Collin Kartchner speaks to attendees at the Utah Coalition Against Pornography conference held a the Dixie Center St. George, Utah, Sept. 14, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The death was announced by his wife Elizabeth Kartchner Wednesday on Instagram. His passing was described as unexpected, but no further information was revealed as to the cause of death. 

“My whole world is gone. … We’ve never known such pain,” his wife said in the Instagram post. “He peacefully passed away unexpectedly due to natural causes in his beautiful body that we are unclear of yet.”

Kartchner led the #savethekids movement where he advocated for protecting children from cyberbullies and other harmful elements on social media. 

“Kids need our eyes and our love and validation more than ever before,” Kartchner told St. George News in 2018. “Showing your kids you love them is 2% effort and 98% just putting down your phone.”

Michelle Rigby, the managing director of #savethekids, emphasized the suddenness of Kartchner’s passing.

“He was perfectly healthy and in great shape,” Rigby told St. George News. “ We don’t know the cause of death yet. It was sudden … unexpected.”   

Collin Kartchner of #SaveTheKids addresses crowd at Snow Canyon High School, St. George, Utah, Sept. 13, 2018 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Thursday evening, Utah first lady Jeanette Herbert issued a statement regarding Kartchner’s death.

“Our family was deeply saddened to hear of Collin’s death. He was an incredible advocate for our youth and was one of the favorite speakers at our Uplift Families Parent Conferences. He had an immense impact on many families — not only in Utah, but worldwide,” Herbert said. “Collin taught us to be present, to put down our devices, and to safeguard our children from social media. The entire Hebert family prays for Collin’s sweet wife, Elizabeth, and their children.”

According to his website, Collin Kartchner spoke at more than 500 venues and was a frequent speaker in Southern Utah on several school campuses. 

Kartchner was outspoken about getting children off social media and not giving kids smartphones, calling them the “new drug of choice in homes.”

Along with his wife, Kartchner leaves behind four children: Avery, Quincey, Lola and Myles.

Updated 8:45 p.m., Oct. 22: Statement from Utah first lady Jeanette Herbert.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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