Over the weekend we were shocked to hear of the death of former Love Island constant Mike Thalassitis. Mike, who was nicked “Muggy Mike” on the show and then subsequently in the media was found dead in a park near his home in North London.
A statement from the Metropolitan Police said:
“Police were called to a park near Latymer Way, N9 at 9.28 am on Saturday, March 16th to reports of a man found hanged. Officers and the London Ambulance Service attended and found a man, aged in his 20’s deceased.”
This is not the first time the death of past contestant was linked with suicide. Sophie Gordon, 32, who featured on the shows 2016 series was found dead in her home June last year.
This latest death has led to other past contestants to speak out against the producers of the show for the lack of support given in the aftermath of overnight fame.
You get a psychological evaluation before and after you go on the show but hands down once you are done on the show you don’t get any support unless you’re number one
— Dom Lever (@_DomLever) March 16, 2019
Hopefully going forward reality shows will help more with the aftermath of being on one, because I can say it definitely didn’t happen after my series when lots of us needed it. Peoples lives change over night and no one can mentally be prepared for it. The good and the bad.
— Kady (@kadymcdermottx) March 16, 2019
WAKE UP @LoveIsland !!!!
— Malin Andersson (@MissMalinSara) March 16, 2019
Actress Sheridan Smith echoed the "Wake- up Call" message.
This should be a massive wake up call, I feel sick, reach out, sometimes to the most confident friend ?? we can only learn & try to change ??❤️ https://t.co/L2fsYx1d6A
— Sheridan Smith (@Sheridansmith1) March 16, 2019
This death should be wake- up call for both producers of reality TV show and viewers alike of the detrimental effects reality TV can have to a person's mental health. Since Big Brother first appeared on our screens in 2000, the standard for hit TV shows began to move toward reality TV. We watch these people over long periods, make snap judgements about their character and brand them with names like "Nasty Nick" and "Muggy Mike". Following the shows, they have their fifteen minutes of fame touring nightclubs, promoting products on social media and finding the next reality TV role. Add in the party lifestyle that comes with this instantaneous fame, it would be difficult for anyone to stay grounded during this time.
It's not surprising to hear that there is a lack of support from the show producers. It can also be argued that there is a lack of support from the general public. If Britney Spears 2007 breakdown or Amy Winehouse prior to her untimely death taught us anything it's that the media and the public love a fall from grace story. Paparazzi trailed these women daily as they were clearly battling with personal issues. Instead of responding with empathy, the general public sat back, watched the struggle and passed judgement.
What's missing as a society is a lack of support for mental health issues but also a lack of empathy. Fellow islander, Jonny Mitchell has started a petition on Change.org urging ITV Studios to adopt a new duty of care for show contestants going on Love Island- and for other reality shows to follow. He also states that:
I think it’s time to wake up and see that the way this industry operates is toxic and it costs lives.
You can sign this petition here.