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'They're sold a dream, it needs to change': Love Island's Jonny Mitchell criticises show after death of Mike Thalassitis

Former Love Island contestant Jonny Mitchell has accused the show of failing to support its stars following the death of his close friend Mike Thalassitis.

Mitchell, who starred in the same series as Thalassitis in 2017, said the care provided in the lead-up and aftermath of the reality show was not good enough.

"It's not the glitz and glam it's made out to be," he told ITV News.

He added: "They shouldn't have people coming in and saying to them, 'It's going to be the best thing ever, you're going to be famous and you’re never going to be able to walk down the road without someone recognising you.

"They should say: it's all well and good but, given the statistics, there's a chance that when you come off this show and you are not going to be able to do anything with it or if you do, it's got a time limit - the next season is a new cast and you will be forgotten about."

Mike Thalassitis was known for being a contestant on 2017's Love Island. Credit: PA

Mitchell revealed he was seen by a psychologist minutes after leaving the show but claimed there was no contact once he had returned home and realised the extent of "merciless trolling" that he had endured.

The next offer of support, Mitchell said, came just a day after Thalassitis' sudden death.

"I never got a phone call saying, 'How are you coping with it Jonny? Are you alright? Do you need to talk to someone? And that's the issue.

"Someone needs to kill themselves for them to make a phone call to make sure everyone is alright? It shouldn't be like that at all."

Love Island insists access to psychological support is available to contestants before, during and after the process.

But Mitchell has joined other past contestants - as well as the Health Secretary Matt Hancock - over recent days in voicing concerns about the level of care for contestants once they become famous following the discovery of Thalassitis' body in a north London park on Saturday morning. He was just 26.

It is the second death of a Love Island contestant in under a year after Sophie Gradon, who appeared in 2016, was found dead at her home in Northumberland last June. An inquest into her death has been postponed.

Mitchell, 27, is calling for producers to better inform prospective new reality TV stars about the pressures of fame as well as offer greater emotional and financial support in the years after they are first thrown into the public eye.

"They look at something like Love Island and think they are going to be a millionaire overnight and it's all going to be plain sailing but it's not that easy."

He added: "You are dealing with a really young audience and they are almost being sold a dream that isn’t there - you need to be honest and things need to change."

Mitchell said he struck up an instant connection with Thalassitis when they first met, describing him as "so funny, quick-witted with such charisma".

“Every memory of Mike is a good I have is a good one. I don't have any bad ones."

The friends had met for dinner in recent weeks where Thalassitis had opened up about his deteriorating mental health.

"It was getting on top of him but he mentioned he had things on the horizon - other TV shows, this new cafe - and he seemed he had it together.

"Not for a second would I have thought that this would have happened.

"Mike is going to be so missed."

A spokesman for ITV’s Love Island said: "Care for our islanders is a process the show takes very seriously and is a continuous process for all those taking part in the show.

"We ensure that all of our contributors are able to access psychological support before, during and after appearing on the show.

"The programme will always provide ongoing support when needed and where appropriate.

"We also discuss at length with all of our islanders before and after the show how their lives might change, and they have access to support and advice to help with this."

  • Samaritans is available 24/7 every day of the year, to listen and offer support to anyone who is struggling to cope. People can contact Samaritans by phone, free of charge, on 116123, via email at jo@samaritans.org or can visit www.samaritans.org to find details of their local branch.