Love Island UK star Mike Thalassitis has died at the age of 26, his rep confirmed over the weekend. Thalassitis found fame on the British reality series in 2017 and later appeared on other series including Celebs Go Dating.
The circumstances around Thalassitis' death are yet to be confirmed, but friends close to the star revealed he was "struggling" after the loss of his grandmother days earlier. It’s understood that Mike had moved in with his grandmother because she was in need of a full-time carer.
Thalassitis marks just another string of reality TV star deaths over the past several years. Fellow Love Island UK star Sophie Gradon took her own life after appearing on the series. Sophie, whose Twitter bio reads: 'sold my soul to reality tv', was open about her struggles with depression and anxiety, saying she wouldn't recommend going on Love Island to anyone who also suffers from mental health conditions.
In the wake of her death, former Miss Great Britain Zara Holland, who was on Sophie's season, has spoken to BBC, saying, "I can't sit here and say that it was 100% Love Island that did this to [Sophie] but I think it was a contributory factor."
Zara also revealed that she still feels anxious and depressed two years on. "I never thought I'd be able to get out of this dark place I went to. It was really hard. It was a very weird experience and I never thought I'd be able to get better," Zara said, before revealing she was referred to a psychologist and put on anti-depressants.
"When I sat down and talked to them we together pulled out the target points that triggered everything off and unfortunately that was from going on Love Island."
Speaking to the Mirror, Zara revealed Love Island contacted her for the first time in two years after Sophie's death. "Funny they call me now when something terrible has happened," she noted, before saying: "People applying need to know how serious things can be, they see a claim to fame, they don’t see that in ten years’ time, when you’re married with babies, you’ll still be haunted for the rest of your life."
In response, a spokesperson for the show said, "All of our islanders are offered psychological support before, during and after their time in the villa. We take our duty of care very seriously and this is always our top priority."
Unfortunately, Thalassitis and Gradon's cases are the worst case scenario. In Australian television, several reality stars have spoken out in recent years of the effects going on national television has left on them.
Married at First Sight star Tracey Jewel revealed she had admitted herself into a mental health clinic, after overdosing while stranded in Europe last year. The mother-of-one went on to say she "started getting help" in April after a psychologist said she might have post-traumatic stress disorder.
"I’ve been bullied and cyber-trolled relentlessly, pretty much all year," she told New Idea, previously writing on Instagram, "You’ve won trolls. I give up. You’ve ruined my life. You’ve involved my friends, family, clients and sponsors. I have lost everything because of your relentless hate. Hope you’re happy you’ve claimed another one."
Tully Smyth, a contestant on 2013's Big Brother, spoke out about the toll reality TV has on mental health in a blog post saying that upon leaving the show, “You struggle to slip back into your old life… you’re broke… you’re exhausted. Emotionally, physically, mentally.”
In 2016, it was reported that there had been 21 deaths worldwide as a result of reality TV. Not only does Sophie's death - and Tracey's overdose - reinforce the need for constant and on-going support for contestants, but it's a wake-up call to everyone who watches the shows to be mindful of the real humans on screens and what we say to or about them.