Megan McKenna in ‘complete shock’ over death of ex-partner Mike Thalassitis
The former The Only Way Is Essex star dated the Love Island contestant last year.
Love Island star Mike Thalassitis’s ex-girlfriend Megan McKenna has told of her “complete shock” as she spoke for the first time following his death.
Thalassitis, who found fame on the ITV2 reality dating show in 2017, was found dead in a north London park on Saturday morning.
The 26-year-old had dated The Only Way Is Essex star McKenna for around seven months before they split in August last year.
McKenna posted on Instagram: “Sorry I haven’t been on social media but I’m in complete shock and trying to come to terms with this. I can’t believe I’m even writing this post.
“My thoughts and prayers are with Mikes family.
“Rest in peace Mike.”
Her statement came after the Health Secretary said reality TV shows have a duty to care for contestants after they become famous.
Speaking on Monday at The Spectator Health Summit in central London, Matt Hancock said: “I am very worried about the support for the mental health of contestants on reality TV shows.
“The sudden exposure to massive fame, I suppose, can have significant impacts on people and I think that it is a duty on any organisation that is putting people in the position of making them famous overnight, that they should also look after them afterwards.
“I think that people need to take responsibility for their duties to people’s wellbeing very seriously.”
Thalassitis, who was of Cypriot descent, earned the nickname “Muggy Mike” after partnering with fellow islander Chris Hughes’s girlfriend Olivia Attwood when he appeared in the 2017 series.
His death is not being treated as suspicious.
Jonny Mitchell, who starred in the programme in 2017 alongside Thalassitis, told BBC Radio 5 Live on Monday that many people struggle to return to normal life after appearing on the dating programme.
“If you come off one of the biggest shows on TV, you can’t go back to working in Tesco, it would be almost impossible, so it creates a lot of stress and a lot of strain on people,” he said.
“I know a lot of people who have come off the show who have suffered with depression.
“To come off a show that’s that big, to be tossed out into the world with no help, no guidance, no anything, it’s a massive shock and then you start thinking, ‘well, I’m famous, but what do I do next?’
“How do I move forward? How do I feed this lifestyle? How am I going to do anything that’s going to keep me going?”
In June last year, former Love Island contestant Sophie Gradon was found dead at her home in Ponteland, Northumberland.
An inquest into the death of the 32-year-old, which was to be held on Thursday, has been postponed to allow her family to consider new information.
Miss Gradon starred in the second series of Love Island in 2016 and was a former Miss Great Britain.
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.”
Meanwhile, a panel on the success of Love Island that was due to be held during Advertising Week Europe has been called off.
The session was scheduled as part of the advertising industry showcase in London on Tuesday, with RadioTimes.com set to interview key players behind the show.
However, a Radio Times spokesperson said “in light of the recent tragic news it has been decided that it would not be appropriate to continue with the planned panel at this time”.
“Our thoughts are with Mike Thalassitis’ friends and family at this difficult time.”