Last Saturday, former Love Island and Celebs Go Dating star – Mike Thalassitis – was found dead in a park near his Essex home. With the death later confirmed as suicide, the news came as a huge shock to many who simply could not have foreseen this happening.
Friends of the former Love Island contestant, who played as a semi-professional footballer, revealed that he had been “in a dark place” in the months preceding his death. Recently, Thalassitis had lost both his grandmother, and best friend.
In the wake of this devastating news, many have questioned the role of Love Island, with its producers – Richard Cowles and Sue Dunford – coming under much scrutiny.
“Change needs to happen”
Former contestants have been vocal in their assessment of the show’s lack of support for its contestants, especially after leaving the programme. Malin Andersson, whose daughter died earlier this year, has declared that “change needs to happen” within the show’s treatment of its contestants, after they would not even call her to offer their support.
— neon management (@neonmanagement) June 9, 2018
Good looking, charming, charismatic; Thalassitis was immensely popular from his stints on reality TV, most notably on ITV 2’s Love Island in 2017. From an outsider’s perspective, Thalassitis was a happy, prosperous young man with a bright future ahead of him. Many would simply assume that the 26 year old semi professional footballer was content with life.
This, however, was clearly not the case, but how did so many turn a blind eye to the mental health issues that killed him?
Mike Thalassitis’ passing should serve as a reminder of men’s mental health issues, and the devastating effects it can have on someone’s life. If the purpose of reality TV really is to reveal every detail of someone’s personal life, then surely it has failed Thalassitis, and many more.
One might question the entire concept of ‘reality TV’, if one of its brightest stars had been struggling with a mental illness that would later claim his life. I, like many other male students, were particularly dumbfounded by this news.
“The ugly truth behind the superficial world of reality TV and social media”
Despite his immense popularity – with 160,000 Twitter followers, and 700,000 Instagram followers – Thalassitis ultimately made the decision to take his own life, exposing the ugly truth behind the superficial world of reality TV and social media. People can suffer in silence, with millions unaware of their struggles.
For any students reading, think of all the people you follow on any social network, and ask yourselves – does everyone genuinely seem to be okay? Has anyone been acting unusually lately? Are they dealing with issues which would go unnoticed at first glance? The simplest of interactions can make every bit of difference.
The tragic fate of Mike Thalassitis proves that you never truly know what others are dealing with, in spite of their outward appearance. One phone call, one text even, can sometimes make the biggest impact on those around you. No one deserves to suffer in silence.
For any men reading, make sure to look out for your friends, and check up on what is going on in their lives. In England and Wales, suicide is the most common killer of men aged between 20-49. Mental health is a disease that can target anyone.
“Often, the people you least expect are suffering from mental health problems.”
Thalassitis, aged just 26, is the latest to fall victim to mental health issues. A man who many men would look up to has been taken too soon. Often, the people you least expect are suffering from mental health problems.
The persona adopted by Thalassitis – of a supremely confident, boisterous and unfiltered womaniser – was effective in hiding his mental health problems, but prevented others from noticing that he was suffering severely. Reality TV almost certainly assisted in bringing this persona into fruition, with Thalassitis’ death a permanent stain on Love Island’s record.
If you, or anyone you know, is currently suffering from mental health issues, don’t be afraid to talk to others about what you’re dealing with. if not, pick up the phone, there are always services available:
If you have been affected by any of the issues we have been talking about in Suicide Awareness Week, then please make use of these support services here.