On the Saturday after Valentines Day, one of Britains most famous TV presenters took her own life at 40 years old.
I found out through Instagram, though the news of Caroline Flacks suicide was everywhere. Flacks life was well documented (as media sources seeking to sanitise her death have been saying).
I cant pretend to know what led Flack to take her own life, nor will I try to. Rather, I will focus on what she was best known for, and how her death will affect its future.
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Though she had been on a series of other reality shows, Flacks biggest role was on ITVs Love Island, a show in which glossy singletons sign up to seek love (and, more recently, brand partnerships) in a Majorcan villa. Flack took on her archetypal role as presenter and with her help it became the UKs most popular dating show.
More than any other show Love Island offers a voyeuristic take on the experience of falling in love. With the help of round-the-clock filming viewers are privy to the most intimate moments of strangers relationships; previous series even captured them having sex. 
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Created with Sketch.
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Created with Sketch.
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‘Live at the Indigo2’ TV – 2008 – Presenter, Caroline Flack
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Caroline Flack gets in a flap when she spots a spider on her leg during live transmission in 2009
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‘The Whole 19 Yards’ TV Programme, 2010
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‘Minute To Win It’ TV Programme. – 2011
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The X Factor Live’ Xtra Factor TV Programme, London, Britain – 12 Nov 201
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The X Factor Live’ Xtra Factor TV Programme, London, Britain – 12 Nov 201
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Sunday Brunch’ TV Programme, London, Britain – 03 Jun 2012
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‘The X Factor Final Live’ TV Programme, Manchester Central Convention Centre, Manchester, Britain – 09 Dec 2012
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TV presenter Caroline Flack is dressed for the occasion as she encourages the nation to get Red Nose Day ready.
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Caroline Flack attending the launch of Strictly Come Dancing 2014, at Elstree Studios
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‘Loose Women’ TV Programme, London, Britain. – 12 Jan 2015
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Fashion For Relief Show, Autumn Winter 2015, London Fashion Week, Britain – 19 Feb 2015
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‘Love Island’ TV Programme. – Jun 2015
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‘Love Island’ TV Series – Jun 2017
(Series 3, Episode 1) – Caroline Flack
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‘Love Island’ TV Series – Jun 2017
Caroline Flack. – Series 3
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British Academy Television Awards, Ceremony, Royal Festival Hall, London, UK – 13 May 2018
Caroline Flack, Reality & Constructed Factual Award, ‘Love Island’
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‘Love Island’ TV Show, Series 4, Episode 57, The Final, Majorca, Spain – 30 Jul 2018
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‘Love Island’ TV Show, Series 5, Episode 48, Majorca, Spain – 27 Jul 2019
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‘Live at the Indigo2’ TV – 2008 – Presenter, Caroline Flack
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Caroline Flack gets in a flap when she spots a spider on her leg during live transmission in 2009
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‘The Whole 19 Yards’ TV Programme, 2010
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‘Minute To Win It’ TV Programme. – 2011
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The X Factor Live’ Xtra Factor TV Programme, London, Britain – 12 Nov 201
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The X Factor Live’ Xtra Factor TV Programme, London, Britain – 12 Nov 201
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Sunday Brunch’ TV Programme, London, Britain – 03 Jun 2012
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‘The X Factor Final Live’ TV Programme, Manchester Central Convention Centre, Manchester, Britain – 09 Dec 2012
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TV presenter Caroline Flack is dressed for the occasion as she encourages the nation to get Red Nose Day ready.
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Caroline Flack attending the launch of Strictly Come Dancing 2014, at Elstree Studios
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‘Loose Women’ TV Programme, London, Britain. – 12 Jan 2015
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Fashion For Relief Show, Autumn Winter 2015, London Fashion Week, Britain – 19 Feb 2015
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‘Love Island’ TV Programme. – Jun 2015
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‘Love Island’ TV Series – Jun 2017
(Series 3, Episode 1) – Caroline Flack
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‘Love Island’ TV Series – Jun 2017
Caroline Flack. – Series 3
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British Academy Television Awards, Ceremony, Royal Festival Hall, London, UK – 13 May 2018
Caroline Flack, Reality & Constructed Factual Award, ‘Love Island’
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‘Love Island’ TV Show, Series 4, Episode 57, The Final, Majorca, Spain – 30 Jul 2018
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‘Love Island’ TV Show, Series 5, Episode 48, Majorca, Spain – 27 Jul 2019
Indeed it almost feels illicit how close we get to the contestants of the show, which might more accurately be called Stalking Hot Strangers Relationships. We develop vested interests in them as individuals and as couples. Indeed the show hinges on how liked they are by us as viewers vote to keep or kick them off of the island.
Flack was the perfect presenter for the show, looking like an islander herself despite being nearly 20 years their senior. She demonstrated genuine care for the contestants as they exposed their innermost emotions to a cruel world perhaps because she had done the same thing herself as a reality star.
Despite being synonymous with the show, Flack didnt appear on the latest winter series of Love Island, following a recent assault charge. Her fall from grace affected an already souring public perception of the show, two of whose former cast members, Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon, died by suicide following their appearance on it.
Yet when it comes to suicide, the show is not unique. In 2019, the Sun published a report stating 38 people worldwide have died by suicide since 1986 after appearing on reality TV (though interestingly, the papers report did not appear to affect the way it reported on the private life of Caroline Flack, but thats another story).
Danny Cipriani talks about mental health in wake of Caroline Flacks death
In the UK, there have been five reality TV deaths by suicide, three of them connected to Love Island. If 60 per cent of reality TV-related suicides are linked to one programme, surely something must be done. If not cancelled for good, at least for a single season, to give the show time to rethink its extreme framing and the intense scrutiny its contestants and its host are subject to.
Though Love Island seems to capture the islanders raw emotions, broadcasting them directly to the viewer, the reality is one of behind-the-scenes directing and purposefully withheld information. The show often uses dramatic irony, letting us know the reality while the islanders have been kept in the dark, like the highly popular returns from Casa Amor, in which islanders have to see if their partner stuck with them or chose another on a week they spend apart.
Now that dramatic irony is being used in a much darker way they havent told the islanders about Flacks death. The islanders arent allowed any news of the outside world theres likely a contract stipulating as much. Yet watching the islanders now, theyve been infantilised, like children too young to understand the complexities of death. I wonder how theyll feel knowing they unwittingly engaged in playful banter in the wake of the suicide of the shows presenter for five seasons.
Insisting the show must go on may have done it more harm than good.
Ratings have plummeted; a change.org petition calling for its cancellation has garnered a quarter of a million signatures. Yet this outpouring of public scorn may be a clarifying moment for the show. Perhaps the turn in public opinion against Love Island will finally prompt its producers at ITV to realise that for the show to go on, it must treat its contestants with the same love it expects them to show one another.
If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offer support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 124 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch
For services local to you, the national mental health database, Hub of Hope, allows you to enter your postcode to search for organisations and charities who offer mental health advice and support in your area