In Depth

Mike Thalassitis death: why Love Island is under fire

Former contestants on the reality show claim ITV’s aftercare has not improved since death of Sophie Gradon

ITV bosses have defended the aftercare provided for Love Island contestants amid a backlash following the sudden death of 2017 islander Mike Thalassitis.

The 26-year-old former semi-professional footballer was found hanged in woodland near his childhood home in Edmonton, north London, on Saturday. His death comes just nine months after the suspected suicide of Sophie Gradon, another contestant from the ITV2 dating show. 

Police are not treating Thalassitis’s death as suspicious, the BBC reports. 

His grandmother, with whom Thalassitis was living as a carer, had passed away days before he was found dead. His best friend is also reported to have died on Christmas Eve. 

In the wake of the latest tragedy, other Love Island stars are calling for improvements to the show’s aftercare.

“Contestants are chewed up and spat out,” said Zara Holland, who appeared on the 2016 series with Gradon. Holland told The Sun that “nothing’s changed” since the death of her friend last June.

“There’s zero care - and now something terrible has happened again. More must be done to help contestants. Yes, they have a psychiatrist behind the scenes but there is zero aftercare. You can’t just be forgotten,” she said.

That message was echoed in a tweet by Dom Lever, who starred alongside Thalassitis on Love Island two years ago. 

Malin Andersson, from the 2016 show, said she had been offered no support from Love Island bosses after fellow contestant Gradon died. Nor did Andersson hear anything following the deaths of her mother and her baby daughter, she claims.

Contestants from other reality shows have also spoken out following the death of Thalassitis, who appeared on C4’s Celebs Go Dating last year.

Mario Falcone, from The Only Way is Essex, said: “Love Island have got to open their eyes to this. They’ve got to look at themselves and the way they treat their stars.”

Meanwhile, Katie Salmon, who dated Gradon on the show, warned any future Love Island applicants to consider how their lives would be affected.

“Why did the producers not look at this and think, ‘Wow, they can’t just walk back into the normal world now.’ Help. People have been calling out and asking for so long. Please, please do something to support the new class of Love Island this year,” she said.

Responding to the criticisms, Love Island broadcaster ITV told the BBC: “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.”

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