Caroline Flack’s death is a devastating reminder that you just don’t know what is going on inside someone’s mind.
The Love Island host was one of the most successful TV presenters, she was adored by her friends, admired by fans and lived a life that we dreamed of. Her Instagram is filled with photos of her smiling on the red carpet, care-free snaps from the sunny beach and images of her huge grin, but as we all know, Instagram is merely a highlights reel.
Caroline was a celebrity with a life many of us envied, but depression, anxiety and mental health disorders do not care for status or wealth or success. They can impact anyone, famous or not. All the privilege in the world can’t stop them from taking hold of your mind.
Caroline was clearly struggling. She was fighting her own personal demons and suffering so much that she felt suicide was her only option. My heart sank when I found out she had died by suicide because that feeling of hopelessness and loneliness is nothing but horrific and terrifying. When you reach that point of utter despair, it is beyond hard to think of anything or anyone else. Suicide isn’t selfish nor is it a crime. It is tragic and heartbreaking and completely devastating, but it is not a cowardly act.
We do not know why she decided to end her life and speculating won’t help. Gossiping about her life or sharing your theories certainly won’t do any good either. We need to give Caroline the respect and dignity that was stripped from her, mostly by the British media and online trolls, late last year when she was arrested for assault.
We also need to simply be kinder to one another. We are slowly beating the stigma surrounding mental health, but there is so much more we can do. Speaking about your struggles can help.
Volunteering for mental health charities can help. Telling your friends about your problems can help. Being their shoulder to cry on can help. Listening to someone’s struggles can help. Donating to organisations that support people with mental health issues can help.
But one thing that can truly help is to simply be kind. This world of online hate, cancel culture and never-ending trolling can be unbearable for millions, including Caroline who was ridiculed and shamed by the media, tabloids and strangers who never met her.
We do have the power to change the online world and make it a friendlier and kinder place. A place that doesn't hound someone for being imperfect, because none of us are. We have all made mistakes, we've all said foolish things and did things we regret.
Caroline’s close friend, Laura Whitmore summed it up perfectly during her heartbreaking tribute to Caroline on her radio show this morning.
How she found the strength to deliver these words is beyond me, but they’ll stay with us for quite some time.
Laura said: “She had many struggles. I'm not going to pretend she's perfect, but is anyone? She lived every mistake publicly under the scrutiny of the media.
“To listeners, be kind, only you are responsible for how you treat others and what you put out in the world. "Your words affect people. To paparazzi and tabloids looking for a cheap sell, to trolls hiding behind a keyboard, enough."
Rest peacefully, Caroline.
You can call the Samaritans on 116 123.