Mike Thalassitis, Love Island star dies at 26.
“Love Island portrayed him to be this character of Muggy Mike. He wasn’t – he was a proper gentleman.”
That’s how Mario Falcone, who was in The Only Way is Essex, describes Mike Thalassitis, who died aged 26.
The 2017 Love Island contestant was found hanged in a park in north London on Saturday morning, police say.
Officers are not treating his death as suspicious.
“He was a really nice guy. I warmed to him – he always reminded me of a younger version of myself,” Mario tells Newsbeat.
“I spoke to him quite a few times recently and he said he was struggling. But he said he was doing better.”
“I don’t think the ‘Muggy Mike’ status was anything that really bothered him,” says Mario.
“On social media there were a lot of things being said that were a lot stronger than ‘Muggy Mike’.”
But Mario says coming out of a reality TV show can be difficult – especially if there isn’t a support network around you.
“You’ve gone from being a normal guy, to a celebrity to a ‘guy that was on that show’ – within the space of six months to a year.
“That’s a lot to deal with.”
He adds: “There is a stigma, especially with men, that you’re meant to be OK, so you don’t want to talk about it. ”
Mario has been open about his mental health in the past, and has spoken about trying to take his own life in 2013.
“I tried to take an overdose. I woke up the next morning and was violently sick. That was a wake-up call for me.”
He adds: “After seeing a specialist it really helped, [but] it’s not something that goes away.”
‘Love Island have got to look at how they treat their stars’
But Mario also says that reality TV shows sometimes don’t do enough to help ex-contestants.
“Love Island have got to open their eyes to this.
“They’ve got to look at themselves and the way they treat their stars.”
Love Island contestant Sophie Gradon, who was on the 2016 series, was found dead in her home in June 2018.
At the time, her friend and fellow Love Islander Malin Andersson told Newsbeat that more aftercare needs to be provided from reality shows.