The death of former Love Island host Caroline Flack is a tragic and stark reminder of the dangers damaging media stories and social media posts can have on vulnerable people, the director of a Catholic mental health project has said.
Flack’s family confirmed news of the presenter’s death on Saturday 15th February following reports that she had been found dead at her London flat at the age of 40 after taking her own life.
The shock news prompted a flood of tributes from celebrities but also questions about the pressures faced by TV celebrities, heightened by online abuse and malicious tabloid reports.
Ben Bano, director of Welcome Me as I Am, which promotes mental health awareness in parish communities, warned that such treatment of vulnerable people could drive them to desperation and insisted that this behaviour has no place in a “civilised and decent society”.
“Caroline’s death serves as a reminder that in a modern world which is dominated by often damaging stories and social media posts, those with mental health issues are particularly vulnerable – indeed, anyone in the public eye – can be driven to desperation by trolls and similar posts,” Mr Bano told The Catholic Universe.
“Our Christian faith, with its focus on love and tolerance for our fellow human beings, should remind us and others that this type of behaviour using social media has no place in a civilised and decent society.”
Laura Whitmore, who took over as presenter of Love Island earlier this year, paid tribute to her “vivacious” and “loving” friend and appealed to listeners of her BBC Radio 5 Live show to “be kind” as she hit out at paparazzi, tabloids and social media trolls.
Acknowledging that her friend “had many struggles” but had “lived every mistake publicly under the scrutiny of the media”, Whitmore said that people who are ever nasty to others on social media “need to look at themselves”, and added: “To the newspapers who create click-bait, who demonise and tear down success. We’ve had enough”.
Flack stepped down from presenting the current Love Island show after she was alleged to have assaulted her boyfriend Lewis Burton, 27, in December.
She entered a not guilty plea to the assault charge at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court and she was released on bail, with conditions that stopped her having any contact with Burton ahead of a trial in March.
Her management company, Money Talent Management, criticised the Crown Prosecution Service for pressing ahead with what it called her “show trial” even after her boyfriend said he did not support it.
However, former director of public prosecutions Lord Ken Macdonald told the PA news agency there would generally be “a strong presumption” that bringing charges in any domestic violence case would be in the public interest.
Flack’s death also comes after two other Love Island stars took their own lives in recent years and less than a year after the scrapping of an ITV show following the death of a participant.
Picture: File photo dated 22nd January 2019 of TV presenter Caroline Flack. (Matt Crossick/PA).