The sad news emerged last night that Love Island star Mike Thalassitis died on Friday at age 26, as his management confirmed to the BBC. The reality TV star and former Stevenage footballer rose to fame on the 2017 series of Love Island, and went on to appear on Celebs Go Dating in 2018. He was found dead in Essex, his management told the BBC.
Celebrities have flooded social media with tributes to Thalassitis, with some raising concerns about the level of support available to reality TV participants. Montana Brown, who appeared alongside Thalassitis on Love Island 2017, wrote on Instagram, "I know you were in a dark place a few months back and I thought you were past it and that you were on the up." She added, "I am absolutely heartbroken that I couldn’t help you."
"Mike, you were so thoughtful, caring and loyal to me and all your friends," Brown wrote, adding that Thalassitis was "misunderstood" by the public. "I just wish people had a tiny glimpse of what the real you was like. You sent me a Christmas card in the post this year, you checked up on me everyday at the beginning of this year when I was struggling myself, you really were the kindest, sweetest person and I am so devastated and crushed that I’ll never get to see you again."
Chris Hughes, who also starred on Love Island with Thalassitis, urged people not to use the nickname "Muggy Mike," coined on the show. "A good guy, taken far, far too soon," Hughes wrote.
Jonny Mitchell, a fellow Love Island star, called Thalassitis "an absolute hero and a legend" who was "full of so much positivity and charisma." Posting on Instagram, Mitchell wrote, "I'm heartbroken and can't put into words how much I'm gonna miss you bro!"
Former The Only Way Is Essex star Ferne McCann wrote on Twitter, "My heart and soul and love goes out to his friends & family," while on Instagram, Love Island host Caroline Flack called Thalassitis "a total gentleman." Actor Sheridan Smith said the death of Thalassitis "should be a massive wake up call," asking her followers to "reach out, sometimes to the most confident friend."
Love Island 2017 contestants Rachel Fenton and Alex Bowen also paid tribute, with Fenton urging Love Island producers to increase the mental health support available to contestants. "You get a 'chat' with a mental health nurse before you enter the villa but that’s it. Not a single thing after you leave," she wrote. "I hope to god this changes."
Malin Andersson, who appeared on the show in 2016, tweeted that she received no support from the Love Island producers after her mum died in 2017, nor after the death of fellow contestant Sophie Gradon earlier in 2018. Speaking to Digital Spy in 2018, Andersson said "the care received wasn't enough" after she left the Love Island villa.
After Andersson lost her newborn daughter, Consy, in January 2019, the producers sent her flowers but did not call or offer any other support, she wrote on Twitter. "Change needs to happen," she said.
2016 Love Island contestant Kady McDermott expressed a similar sentiment on Twitter, writing, "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. People's lives change over night and no one can mentally be prepared for it." ITV did not immediately respond to Bustle's request for comment.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the Samaritans on 116 123 or email email@example.com. You can also call the mental health charity Mind on 0300 123 3393.
Update: In a statement sent to Bustle, ITV has confirmed that they will be updating their aftercare process for future Love Island contestants. "As the show has grown ever more popular and our Islanders get increased attention in an ever changing landscape, each series we evolve the support we give them,” the statement read. It continued: "We have always recognised that this should be an evolving process and six months ago we engaged Dr Paul Litchfield, an experienced physician and a Chief Medical Officer, to independently review our medical processes on Love Island. He has extensive experience of working with large companies and Government in the area of mental health. This review has led us to extend our support processes to offer therapy to all Islanders and not only those that reach out to us. And we will be delivering bespoke training to all future Islanders to include social media and financial management. The key focus will be for us to no longer be reliant on the islanders asking us for support but for us to proactively check in with them on a regular basis."