THE HEARTBROKEN mums of tragic Love Island stars Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon have warned contestants on the hit show to “walk away before it's too late.”
Deborah, Sophie’s mum, and Shirley, Mike’s mum, have also called for the ITV show to be axed entirely ahead of the latest series airing.
The pair met for the first time this week after both of their children committed suicide after appearing on the show – Sophie, 32, in 2018 and Mike, 26, in 2019.
During the meeting, devastated Deborah, 62, from Newcastle urged islanders appearing on the seventh series to reconsider and walk away.
She said: "They don’t understand just how much the overnight fame and the trolling can affect them. They should walk away before it’s too late.”
The emotional pair had travelled to London for their meeting, and shared memories of their children ahead of the new series starting on Monday.
It is the first time that the show will be aired since presenter Caroline Flack committed suicide last February aged 40.
Love Island bosses have launched a new “duty of care” package for contestants in the wake of the deaths of Sophie and Mike.
But speaking to The Sunday Mirror , Deborah has branded the move as a “box ticking” exercise, and slammed the way that contestants are “cherry-picked” through social media.
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."
Both women have been unable to watch Love Island since the deaths of their son and daughter, which has become a top show forITV since its launch in 2015.
Deborah added: “Even the theme tune makes me feel sick. Subconsciously I stop watching TV at this time of year, just so I don’t have to see it.
“Now everyone knows what it can do to a life and I really worry for anyone taking part."
ITV have announced that they are bringing in a series of new procedures, including extensive media training which will help them to handle trolls.
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The Islanders will get financial advice, and a “proactive aftercare package” which lasts 14 months and includes a minimum of eight therapy sessions.
A clinical psychologist and BT’s former chief medical officer have both been drafted in to review procedures and monitor the new stars.
But both mums have questioned the moves, with Shirley claiming: “You just can’t predict how being on the show is going to affect people.”
Her son Mike, from Edmonton, North London, appeared on the show in 2017 and also took part in a number other reality shows after.
He took his own life in March, 2019, with an inquest hearing how Mike killed himself after a cocaine and booze binge.
The day after his death, his friend and fellow Love Island start Montana Brown visited his parents home with other pals.
She revealed the heartbreaking final text message sent by Mike before he took his own life.
Former Miss GB Sophie appeared on the show in 2017, and had been bombarded with abuse after appearing on Love Island.
Sophie died in June 2018, and Deborah flew to Ibiza to mark the third anniversary of her death on Friday.
The 32-year-old was found by her boyfriend Aaron Armstrong, 25, who took his own life 20 days later.
Deborah said: “No matter what training they get, nothing can prepare those kids for what they are letting themselves in for on social media.
“I won’t be happy until the show is off air. I drank for a year after Sophie, to block out the indescribable pain."
In a statement an ITV spokesman said: “Welfare and duty of care towards our contributors is always our primary concern, and we have extensive measures in place to support the islanders before, during and after participation.
“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.”
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