Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis' mums urge 'Love Islanders' to 'walk away before it’s too late'

·Contributor
Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis took their own lives after appearing on 'Love Island'. (ITV)
Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis took their own lives after appearing on 'Love Island'. (ITV)

The mothers of Love Island contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis have urged contestants on the show's upcoming series not to take part.

Gradon and Thalassitis both took their own lives after appearing on the TV dating show, sparking debate over the aftercare procedures designed to protect the mental health of participants.

Read more: Sophie Gradon's mother thinks daughter's death caused her brain tumour

Gradon's mum, Deborah, and Thalassitis's mother, Shirley, met for the first time in an interview with the Sunday Mirror in which they called for ITV2 to axe Love Island for good.

Deborah said she "won’t be happy until the show is off air" and that it was wrong for the show to return after the deaths of Gradon, Thalassitis and former presenter Caroline Flack, who also took her own life in 2020.

Watch: Montana Brown speaks after Mike Thalassitis inquest

She said: "It’s a disgrace that they should be allowed to bring it back after three adored, precious people with connections to the show have taken their own lives.”

Deborah compared the selection process for the show to "modern day bear-baiting", adding: “It’s like poking people with sticks just for cheap ratings.”

Read more: Amy Hart says Love Island therapist helped her beat trolls

She said even the show's theme tune "makes me feel sick" and worries for anyone taking part in this year's series when it begins on 28 June.

"They don’t understand just how much the overnight fame and the trolling can affect them," Deborah urged. "They should walk away before it’s too late.”

Laura Whitmore is returning as the host of 'Love Island' in 2021. (ITV)
Laura Whitmore is returning as the host of 'Love Island' in 2021. (ITV)

Along with many other reality TV shows, Love Island has redesigned its aftercare procedure in order to be more mindful of the mental health of those who appear on the programme.

In a statement, ITV said its duty of care towards Islanders is its "primary concern" and that it has "extensive measures" in place to protect their wellbeing.

Read more: Dr Alex George hopes for more diverse Love Island cast

The spokesman added: "We have continued to evolve our process with each series, as the level of social media and media attention around the Islanders has increased.

"This includes enhanced psychological support, more detailed conversations with potential Islanders regarding the impact of participation on the show, bespoke training for all Islanders on social media and a proactive aftercare package."

'Love Island' bosses have boosted the level and sophistication of the aftercare provided to contestants. (ITV)
'Love Island' bosses have boosted the level and sophistication of the aftercare provided to contestants. (ITV)

Love Island is due to return to TV screens on 28 June, with host Laura Whitmore and voiceover man Iain Stirling recently flying to Mallorca to begin preparations.

Criticism of the show's diversity has also been a theme of the run-up to the latest series, with viewers and former stars calling for more LGBT+ contestants as well as variety when it comes to body shape.

Read more: Montana Brown warns Love Island stars fame doesn't last forever

This series will mark the first summer edition of the show since 2019, with last year's series postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first winter series did air in 2020, taking place in January and February before lockdown restrictions came into force.

Watch: Trailer for the new series of Love Island

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