PETE Wicks has opened up about the dark side of reality TV fame after the tragic death of Love Island star Mike Thalassitis last month.
The ex-Towie star says that people don’t realise how difficult it is to be in the limelight and the negatives that come with it.
Getty – Contributor Pete Wicks has opened up about the dark side of reality TV fame after Mike Thalassitis took his own life
Getty – Contributor Mike Thalassitis was found hanged in woodland near his North London home last month
It comes after Mike, who dated Pete’s ex Megan McKenna, took his own life following a private battle with his mental health.
Pete told The Sun: “I knew Mike but not very well. He was always lovely with me. I feel for his family and his loved ones.
“I know what has happened to Mike is tragic and horrible, but it isn’t just about reality TV and fame.
“It is happening to lots of men up and down the country regardless of whether you are famous, an accountant or a builder.
“I have friends who work on oil rigs who work away for three months and then come home and don’t work and feel lost. It is the same for all jobs.
“Male suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK so something needs to be done about it.”
Pete’s own battle
The 30-year-old admits that he has battled with anxiety himself and not understood how to cope with it.
He said: “I have struggled with anxiety before and not really know what it was or how to deal with it.
“I think there is more stigma around guys. They don’t want to admit they are struggling or talk about when they have a problem.”
This was the case for 26-year-old Mike, whose family said after his death that despite appearing well on the outside, he was battling a “dark depression”.
Writing on a JustGiving page set up in his memory, his aunt Francesca Goldsmid said: “[Mike] had a close and supportive network of friends and family, a much loved public profile, a strong pipeline of promising new business ventures and financial stability enabling him more luxuries than most.
Deep down beneath the surface Mike was suffering from poor mental health – a dark depression that he kept very well hidden from even his closest friends and familyFrancesca GoldsmidMike’s aunt
“Most crucially, he looked impeccably healthy from the outside (some even called him a ‘Greek God’), and when surrounded by friends and family he was full of banter and sarcasm and always had a cheeky grin plastered across his face.
“Yet despite all this, and most importantly, deep down beneath the surface he was suffering from poor mental health – a dark depression that he kept very well hidden from even his closest friends and family.
“So on the 16th March, overwhelmed and exhausted by his private battle with depression, he made the tragic decision to give up the fight by ending his own life.”
The key signs your loved one is at risk of suicide
There are several warning signs that a person is at risk of suicide. But it’s vital to know that they won’t always be obvious.
While some people are quite visibly in pain and become withdrawn and depressed, others may continue their life as normal pretending everything is fine.
Look out for subtle personality changes in friends and family, especially if you know they have been going through a tough time, Lorna told The Sun Online.
These are the key signs to watch out for:
A change in routine, such as sleeping or eating less than normal
Lacking energy or appearing particularly tired
Drinking, smoking or using drugs more than usual
Finding it hard to cope with everyday things
Not wanting to do things they usually enjoy
Becoming withdrawn from friends and family – not wanting to talk or be with people
Appearing more tearful
Appearing restless, agitated, nervous, irritable
Putting themselves down in a serious or jokey way, for example ‘Oh, no one loves me’, or ‘I’m a waste of space’
Losing interest in their appearance, not liking or taking care of themselves or feeling they don’t matter
Pete, who has appeared on Celebs Go Dating and Celebrity Island, warned that those who sign up to take part in reality shows need to know what they’re getting themselves in for.
He said: “I think whatever you do you have to be aware of the negatives and positives and really think about if it is right for you.
“The problem with fame is people don’t realise how bad the negatives can be.
“I don’t think it is down to programmes and production companies to give pre-care to people.
“I think it’s peoples’ responsibilities to really understand what they are getting themselves in for.
“I think more people should talk about the negatives of what they do and the downsides as well as the positives.”
In the days after Mike was found hanged in woodland in North London, former Love Island contestants urged ITV to do more to protect them from psychological trauma.
Zara Holland — dumped as Miss Great Britain after having sex on the show in 2016 — said care had not improved since Sophie Gradon’s suspected suicide last June.
Since then, producers confirmed they will be changing the show’s aftercare process for all cast members in future seasons – not just those who ask for it.
But Pete believes that producers can’t take all the blame.
I know a lot of people are saying they need more aftercare on Love Island but I also believe it is down to the individual to look after themselvesPete Wicks
He said: “I know a lot of people are saying they need more aftercare on Love Island but I also believe it is down to the individual to look after themselves.
“I think every job regardless of what you do has a duty of care to look after their staff.
“But also people also need to open up and talk.
“Regardless of whether there is someone on hand doesn’t mean people will always feel comfortable to open up and talk to them.”
Pete previously told how he was supporting his former girlfriend Megan after the shock death of her ex Mike.
Pete and Megan were in a volatile relationship from 2016 to 2017.
The Sun’s You’re Not Alone campaign aims to help prevent deaths from suicide
EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost – to suicide.
It doesn’t discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It’s the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes. And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.
Yet, it’s rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun has launched the You’re Not Alone campaign. To remind anyone facing a tough time, grappling with mental illness or feeling like there’s nowhere left to turn, that there is hope.
We share the stories of brave survivors, relatives left behind, heroic Good Samaritans – and tips from mental health experts.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let’s all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others.
You’re Not Alone.
For a list of support organisations, see box below.
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Megan went on to date Mike for seven months, but their romance broke down in July.
She then signed up to Celebs Go Dating at the same time as and after a bitter start, the pair recently patched things up.
In the season finale, which was filmed prior to Mike’s death, fans were in tears when the exes had an emotional heart-to-heart in which they concluded they were now “good friends”.
Getty Images – Getty Mike and Megan McKenna formerly dated
Getty – Contributor Pete used to date Mike’s ex Megan McKenna
Dani Dyer talks Mike Thalassitis’ death and the psychological support from Love Island producers
You’re Not Alone: Where to seek help if you need itIf you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
IF you are having suicidal thoughts, suffering from anxiety or depression or just want to talk, call The Samaritans on 116 123.