Love Island: The Cost of a Blue Tick

A record-breaking TV marathon for the nation, a whirlwind of fame and depression for its contestants.

Love Island.

We all watch it.

We anxiously anticipate its return months before it graces our screens.

The familiar all-purpose Chris Hughes lying-in-bed meme resurfaces once again and all of a sudden it’s here.

Image result for chris hughes meme

Time stops, social lives are put on hold and two whole months of the year are taken up with Iain Stirling’s innuendo-packed commentary, many-a-gathering round the fire pit and relentless Casa Amor drama.

But at what cost do we watch this show?

On Saturday Mike Thalassitis, 26, was found hanged in a wooded park in North London.

He was a contestant on Series 3 of Love Island in 2017.

Related image
Mike Thalassitis (Source: Fox News)

Last year Sophie Gradon, 32, died in her home in Northumbria after competing on Series 2 of Love Island in 2016.

Her boyfriend, Aaron Armstrong, died three weeks later.

Image result for sophie gradon
Sophie Gradon with her boyfriend Aaron Armstrong (Source: BBC)

Despite a recent new line of enquiry into Sophie’s death, all three deaths are being treated as suicides.

Love Island has now come under scrutiny for its aftercare, or lack thereof.

On Monday Series 2 Love Island contestant Zara Holland told The Sun:

“Contestants are chewed up and spat out. Nothing’s changed. There’s zero care – and now something terrible has happened again.”

Image result for zara holland crown taken off her
Zara Holland left the show shortly after having sex on air which led to her losing the Miss Great Britain title (Source: The Mirror)

Neighbouring British reality TV stars joined in on the conversation too.

Newsbeat spoke to TOWIE star Mario Falcone, who tried to take his own life in 2013:

Love Island have got to open their eyes to this. They’ve got to look at themselves and the way they treat their stars.”

It’s a brutal process.

You become a celebrity overnight, but with that fame comes a very uncertain shelf-life.

It’s a game of survival, but not least when you leave the villa and the comfort of guaranteed air time.

From the day you leave that villa, you leave everybody’s television screen and your life becomes one long, hard battle to stay relevant.

After Mike finished Celebs Go Dating in November last year and no further work followed, he hit a new low according to his friend and fellow contestant, Montana Rose.

Image result for mike celebs go dating
Mike Thalassitis with friend and colleague Sam Thompson on Celebs Go Dating (Source: Daily Mail)

His depression was a direct reaction to the instability indicative of leaving a show like Love Island.

Series 2 Love Island contestant, Malin Andersson, told Newsbeat after Sophie’s death:

“It’s like you’re constantly reaching for some kind of high and when work dies down and things go quiet you’re constantly trying to chase it – and that’s where depression can kick in.”

We wave away the likes of Megan Barton-Hanson when she claims to be having a ‘down day’, thinking ‘what in the world does she have to complain about?

Image result for megan barton hanson
Megan Barton-Hanson (Source:

But in reality, these contestants endure some of the quickest turnarounds in fame known to the world.

Quick fire fame can be deadly because it’s impossible to navigate once you’re in it, and when the Love Island PR circle abandons you, you’re on your own.

Mike’s death has raised the important issue of how overnight fame can’t simply be treated with overnight therapy.

As Montana tells This Morning, when Mike saw a therapist:

“He just wanted someone to tell him: ‘How do I get out of this dark place?’”

That, of course, is not how therapy works.

But why wouldn’t he expect an instant, practical solution when everything else in his career thus far had been instant?

Herein lies the problem.

Reality TV creates a void where feelings and reactions simply can’t catch up with the pace of overnight fame.

This is where Love Island need to invest in its aftercare.

Mental health professionals and psychologists have hit out at reality TV stars for already having all the help they need at hand, but as Series 4 Love Island contestant Dr Alex George points out on ITV News:

“We need to think about how we connect the services which are there for them and the people that need them.”

Related image
Dr Alex George (Source:

Love Island claimed their support is a “continuous process” on 5 Live, but this simply doesn’t match what islanders are saying now in the wake of Sophie’s, and now Mike’s death.

Multiple contestants have come out criticising the show for it’s shoddy job in warning them about the trolling and online abuse they now receive daily.

Series 3 Love Island contestant Johnny Mitchell said:

“One thing’s for sure, when the producers of Love Island sold us “the dream”, they never warned us about the reality we could face.

In Johnny’s article for The Guardian he talks about how psychologists screen potential contestants before the show, but after they leave the villa they are left alone with no compulsory aftercare scheme.

Image result for jonny mitchell
Jonny Mitchell talking on Sky News (Source: Evening Standard)

The care the show offers should be comprehensive, readily available for years after they leave the show.

Most importantly, it should be personalised to the journey their Islanders experience.

Without immediate identification, Love Island won’t be able to keep up with their contestants.

To lose sight of the environment they’ve created, now that’s the biggest betrayal of all.

Two Love Island contestants have died in the last two years.

The gap in communication between Love Island and their contestant’s mental health needs to close.


Johnny Mitchell has started a petition on to ensure Love Island contestants are offered “real support”.

Following Mike’s death, ITV has said Love Island stars will in future be offered therapy, social media training and financial advice.

Currently, Ruby is retraining to become a journalist. She is an avid follower of British politics, writes poetry on her commute and is a firm believer in open debate. Her particular interests are attending and reviewing art exhibitions and analysing current affairs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *