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Caroline Flack, the famous, blonde-haired beauty we all knew as the bubbly and articulate presenter of ITV2’s hit TV show Love Island was pronounced dead on 15 February, after a tragic taking of her own life. What is even more tragic, is that Caroline Flack’s death is not the first to occur after appearances on the programme.
Her death marks the end of a 40-year life plagued with the volatility that comes from mental health issues. It is no secret that the star had insecurities from a young age. Whilst her twin sister Jody seemed to embody a picture of health, Caroline suffered mentally; constantly being discriminated against for her body and appearance. The normality of mental health problems should never be underestimated. One in four people will suffer from depression and one in six people will suffer from further mental health problems.
Let us put ourselves in Flack’s shoes. After a modest upbringing in London and years of hard work, we find ourselves an actress and presenter, whose life was constantly being watched by the media. Eyes on her were inevitable. The media was always waiting, and hoping, that she would conceive an inexorable or human mistake.
This happened in December 2019, when Flack was charged with assaulting her boyfriend. This is not excusable, but there is a larger picture at hand. The vultures that are the media claw at information in their selfish pursuit for commission and clickbait on an incomprehensible scale. This did not give her the innate, fair experience of being able to atone for her mistakes away from the tabloid’s microscopic eye.
Everybody seemed to have an opinion on the matter. Especially people she had never met. All hurling abuses her way from the security of a screen. They were invoked by a desire to be heard. A desire to gain more social media followers. Seemingly oblivious to the notion of mental health awareness, or unfased by the impact their actions had on another human being. The court case was set to be held on 4 March. This court case severely impacted her career and henceforth her welfare. Let it be known that her boyfriend, tennis player Lewis Burton, had no intention of pressing charges. However, Crown Prosecution Service has a duty to prosecute if there is sufficient cause to prosecute.
We live in a society of free will and free speech, but we should also recognise mistakes, just like everybody recognised Flack’s quickly. The media need to take a step back and respect human privacy much more, especially when it can lead to a loss of human life. We must do better as a society. Social media is extremely new – we should treat it with caution, and bare others’ welfare in mind. We must do more to prevent the cancerous nature of social media shaming, and its ability to inflict of self-hate and dire vulnerability. Mental health will always find a way to affect us, but we must acknowledge how our actions can and do affect others.
As Caroline Flack herself said before her untimely death: “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”