Mental health campaigners have warned of the dangers of talk shows such as the Jeremy Kyle Show in the wake of the programme’s indefinite suspension following the death of a guest.
The guest, who has not been named, is believed to have passed away a week after the filming of an episode of the show, which was due to be screened yesterday.
The programme was pulled from air and ITV bosses said that both broadcasting and filming of the programme would be halted indefinitely. The back catalogue of the programme, which is broadcast every weekday morning and has been running since 2005, has also been entirely removed from the ITV Hub.
Mental health experts warned that airing problems in such a public forum can be damaging for a vulnerable person’s mental health and called for producers to ensure they exercise ‘duty of care’ of participants in such programmes.
Toni Giugliano, policy manager for the Mental Health Foundation Scotland, said: “We would call for the editors of any programme to balance the editorial benefits and what they think people want to watch with the wellbeing and safeguarding of people.
“With this sort of programme - as well as things like Love Island or Big Brother - where people are very clearly in distress and are
sharing very distressing experiences, they need to ensure that safeguarding is taken very seriously.”
Two contestants on ITV’s Love Island have committed suicide in recent years. Mike Thalissitis, 26, died earlier this year in London, while Sophie Gradon, 32, was found dead at her parents’ home in Ponteland, near Newcastle, last year.
Mr Giugliano said that TV companies should ensure they offer support to guests before, during and after any television appearance.
He added: “People need to think about what kind of response they will get to appearing on television, whether there will be a backlash, what the social media response will be. By appearing, we are exposing ourselves to the world and we don’t know what kind of reaction we might get from it. If it could be a negative reaction, that needs to be pointed out to people.
“If they consider any contestant is not mentally well, then they need to take that into consideration.”
A spokeswoman for the broadcaster said: “Everyone at ITV and The Jeremy Kyle Show is shocked and saddened at the news of the death of a
participant in the show a week after the recording of the episode they featured in and our thoughts are with their family and friends.
“ITV will not screen the episode in which they featured.”
She added: “Given the seriousness of this event, ITV has also decided to suspend both filming and broadcasting of The Jeremy Kyle Show with
immediate effect in order to give it time to conduct a review of this episode of the show.”
The programme employs a psychotherapist, who is said to help guests both during the programme and once filming has ended, to help resolve any issues brought up by the discussion, which usually involve family troubles or relationship problems. Lie detector tests are often used to “prove” if a guest is telling the truth.
Alternative programme Dickinson’s Real Deals was aired instead of the Jeremy Kyle Show at 9.25am on Monday morning.