Tributes have been pouring in for footballer and Love Island contestant Mike Thalassitis after his management confirmed to the BBC that he passed away this weekend, on March 16, aged just 26. The reality TV star was one of the biggest personalities to come out of Love Island 2017 and his death has shaken family, friends, and fans. Today (March 18), Thalassitis' fellow Love Island contestant Montana Brown appeared on ITV’s This Morning to speak to hosts Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield about the loss and the affect it has had on her and others who were close to the young TV star.
Social media has been awash with kind words, tributes, and memories of Thalassitis after the BBC confirmed that he was found dead in a park in North London on March. 16. Appearing on This Morning with the blessing of Thalassitis’ family, Brown described her Love Island cast mate as “loyal”, “sensitive”, and “lovely.” She said that, although Thalassitis had opened up to her about going through a dark time in November and December of 2018, she thought he was doing a lot better.
Brown recalled the last message she received from him was two days before and said: “I am kind of kicking myself because he text me and I didn’t reply, just because I am really bad on my phone. I think you overthink everything, everything you do, and I just wish I had replied.”
Brown was moved to tears when speaking about these texts, but Schofield reassured her and said: "Listen, you can't possibly, possibly know. And as you said yourself, you thought he was in a better place. You thought he was getting there. So you couldn't know."
The announcement of Thalassitis’ death has started a larger conversation about the amount of support that the Love Island contestants, and reality TV stars in general, receive after leaving their respective shows. The news about Thalassitis comes less than a year after the tragic death of another Love Island contestant, Sophie Gradon.
Some former Love Island participants took to Twitter to express their concerns and grievances about the lack of support provided after the show finishes.
Dom Lever, who featured alongside Thalassitis in the show, tweeted: "You get a psychological evaluation before and after you go on the show but hands down once you are done on the show you don't get any support unless you're number one."
Jess Shears, who is married to Lever, wrote: "Shows offer you 'support' but realistically it's only while you are in their care. Minute you get home & are no longer making them money it's out of sight out of mind."
Malin Andersson wrote on Twitter: "WAKE UP @LoveIsland !!!!" Followed by: "Enough is enough," and "Nothing when my mum died. Nothing when Sophie died. Change needs to happen."
In a statement about Thalassitis’ passing, ITV said:
"Everyone at ITV2 and Love Island are shocked and saddened by this terrible news. Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with Mike's family and friends at this very sad time."
Bustle has reached out to ITV to see if they have any further comments on this topic, and I'll update you if I hear anything.
After Thalassitis’ management confirmed Thalassitis had died, Brown was one of many stars who took to social media to remember him and express their sadness. She wrote on Instagram:
“I can’t imagine how much pain you must have been in to do this, and the fact that you went through this on your own breaks my heart. I’m so so sorry I couldn’t do more to help you. I have so much love for you Mike and I will never forget you. Sleep tight darling and I miss you so much already.”
Former TOWIE star Mario Falcone spoke out about his bond with Thalassitis and the pressure experienced by reality TV personalities once they leave shows. He told Newsbeat: "You've gone from being a normal guy, to a celebrity to a 'guy that was on that show' — within the space of six months to a year. That’s a lot to deal with." He continued: "There is a stigma, especially with men, that you're meant to be OK, so you don't want to talk about it.”
In her interview with This Morning, Brown said: "It just makes me so sad that he obviously had so many demons that he went through on his own."
During the segment, hosts Willoughby and Schofield, along with guest Simon Gunning, the CEO of mental health charity CALM, spoke about some of the ways in which they believe people can help those they know suffering from mental health issues. Gunning said: "Talk to each other, encourage open behaviour, ask questions and really mean it, listen to the answers, be facilitative towards conversations that are going to lead to those kind of solution-based ways forward." He added: "There's so much stuff on [CALM's] website that can help."
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the Samaritans on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call the mental health charity Mind on 0300 123 3393, or CALM on 0800 58 58 58.
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."