Health minister Jackie Doyle-Price has urged the public to take a “step back” from watching reality TV shows, as she called the deaths of two Love Island stars a “wake-up call”.
Speaking days after former Love Island contestant Mike Thalassitis was found dead in a north London park, the MP said she believes that the production companies and Ofcom also have a responsibility over such programmes.
In June last year, former Love Island contestant Sophie Gradon – who appeared on the show in 2016 – was found dead at her home in Ponteland, Northumberland.
Ms Doyle-Price told BBC Radio 5 Live: “Really this is a wake-up call for all of us, because we have started to enjoy reality TV a bit too much.
“You know, it’s a bit voyeuristic and I think there is a time for us to step back here.
“And is this really what we want to be encouraging? Do we really want to encourage people to have five minutes of fame and then be dropped and then deal with all the mental stresses that come with that?”
She added: “I would just ask everybody to ask themselves why they watch these programmes. It does become – you know – real-life shouldn’t be entertainment, really.”
Ms Doyle-Price said that production companies for reality TV shows “need to look at what they do”.
“Because these people are suddenly going from no one to this massive personality – (it) can bring with it pressures,” she added, although she admitted that she is “not privy to what they actually do”.
She said: “I am sure they would say they do do psychological profiling and so on. However, we have a death here. So we need to look at whether that company has done enough to protect that person from harm.”
Ms Doyle-Price, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health, said that “Ofcom may have a role, but ultimately I think we all do, because we’re the ones who watch it”.
“We all need to think about what it is we are choosing to watch on TV,” she added.
Thalassitis, who rose to fame on the 2017 series of Love Island, was found dead on Saturday. He was 26.
Police have said they are not treating his death as suspicious.
An inquest into the death of 32-year-old Gradon, which was to be held on Thursday, has been postponed to allow her family to consider new information.
A statement from Love Island said: “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.”