ITV boss says ‘other events’ would have caused Love Island suicides and not just their show
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Warning: The following article contains mentions of suicide
Dame Carolyn McCall has today (14 June) been answering questions from MPs in a session of the Culture, Media and Sport committee.
While many of the questions focused on ITV's response to the incident which caused Phillip Schofield's recent departure from This Morning, MPs also asked McCall about 'any other potential safeguarding issues concerning any other ITV shows or presenters'.
When McCall said 'not to my knowledge', she was then asked: "What would you say to the family of Caroline Flack, who've stated 'ITV used its talent like commodities'?"
The ITV boss answered by saying that they 'genuinely feel deeply, deeply sad about what happened to Caroline' and lots of people 'really liked working' with the Love Island presenter, who committed suicide in February 2020.
The committee then asked further about Love Island, describing it as 'a show now linked with four suicides' and noted it was 'still running on your channel as we speak'.
Former Love Island stars Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis committed suicide two years after they respectively appeared on the show, and Gradon's boyfriend Aaron Armstrong took his own life weeks after Sophie did.
McCall said that was a 'gross misrepresentation of the show' and that there were 'other events' which would have been part of their suicides.
She said: "Caroline was not on the show and the reason that she tragically took her life, she was going through some extremely public things in her private life. I don't think you can correlate and say bang, this is 'cause she's on a show.
"There are two others I'm aware of that you might be referring to, one of the things I would say is these are deeply tragic things."
"We've thought about it a huge amount, I don't think any of you can even understand how deeply distressing something like that would be for people who work at ITV."
"I've really looked at this in detail and we've taken a lot of professional advice, we've talked to professional advisors. The generally accepted professional opinion is that the causes of the tragedies, of these types of tragedies, are always complex and multiple."
"Both individuals you're referring to took their lives two years after they appeared on the show. There will have been many, many other events which will have been part of multiple causes."
The ITV boss went on to describe the work they did with mental health groups and the safeguarding they had in place for people working on their shows.
She said: "We work with CALM, the Campaign Against Living Miserably, we work with Mind and Young Mind, they're both on our mental health advisory group.
"They would say, and I'm quoting, they would say 'to isolate one event, albeit maybe an important event in their lives, is to really simplify a maybe complex sequence of events'."
"I feel that when you throw that at us it is very difficult for us and it makes us sound unfeeling. We're really, really not, we take it so seriously.
"Since 2018 the duty of care on every show, but Love Island particularly, is extremely comprehensive."
McCall then offered to give the committee the file they had on their duty of care towards staff and participants on Love Island.
Tyla have contacted ITV for further comment.
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