No more suicides - give real support to all contestants

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I got to know Mike Thalassitis when we appeared together in ITV’s Love Island, and he quickly became one of my best friends from the show. I always looked up to him - he was so full of positivity and charisma. When I found out this weekend that he had taken his own life I was utterly heartbroken. 

In the space of a year, two Love Island contestants have been in such a dark place that they’ve felt it necessary to take their own lives. Aside from that I know many, many more people who have also struggled with depression following on from the show.

I think it’s time to wake up and see that the way this industry operates is toxic and it costs lives.

Producers can sell you the dream, pretend to be your best friend, use you for their own agenda, push you into situations on the show and then sell the public an image of your character however best suits the show through how they edit it, and then they send you out into the world with a pat on the back and nothing more.

I remember having to meet the show psychologist twice before filming started and there was always a high amount of interest around my mental health from the producers (because obviously they don’t want to risk someone having a meltdown on the show), but after the filming stops you have no help or aftercare to help you cope with the world waiting for you.

That’s why I’m calling on ITV Studios for a new duty of care for show contestants going on Love Island - and for other reality shows to follow too.

I probably got trolled more than most coming off Love Island and luckily it never fazed me, but not once did I get any contact from the show asking me if I needed any help dealing with any of it.

For younger people going into that environment, being shot to fame literally overnight and then being cut loose to try and handle what’s waiting for them all alone is just wrong, and it’s something that these reality shows need to take into account.

I feel like I just woke up in the twilight zone one morning where people are these sad creatures that sit behind their keyboard and put people they don’t know down in order to make themselves feel better. Like what is all this trolling stuff about? Some people are seriously sad and animalistic enough to push some people to the point where they actually kill themselves.

These reality shows need to be held accountable for the way they operate and for falsely over-glamourising something to make it more appealing to kids who don’t know any better. They are not providing a clear enough picture of the risks involved. They need to start fully explaining the negatives of entering this world, they need to stop falsely portraying people through how they edit in order to make their show more entertaining, as once the show’s over, the person who they portrayed negatively has to deal with the backlash from the public.

There needs to be a compulsory set-out aftercare scheme in place for people who are going on reality TV shows. Sign below if you want to help protect more young people suffering just so they could make a good tv show.