Former Love Island contestant Ollie Williams has claimed he was “treated like a murderer” after a controversy over photos that allegedly showed him trophy hunting.
Williams, from Cornwall, denied the photos showed a trophy hunting expedition and is now backing calls for better social media regulation.
The death of former Love Island host Caroline Flack sparked demands for radical changes in how people, particularly celebrities, are treated in the press and on social media.
Flack, who had quit as host before Williams became a contestant, took her own life earlier this month.
In 2019, former Love Island contestants Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon took their own lives, sparking debates about aftercare from the show.
Following Thalassitis's death, ITV said it would deliver “bespoke” training to all future contestants, which will include social media and financial management.
“Conversations about mental health have never been more important,” the ITV statement said.
Williams – who spent less than three days in the Love Island villa before quitting over the controversy, echoed Flack's words: “We just need to be a bit kinder to each other.”
“Goodness knows what would have happened”, had he not been so “thick-skinned”, he told the BBC.
He said he was put on a plane within an hour of leaving the villa in January and flown into a private terminal at Heathrow.
“I had someone checking I was OK mentally when I came out, but on landing in London they assigned me a security detail – I knew then things were bad,” he said.
“I felt like the most hated person in Britain... I never in a million years thought it would be this bad. There's now this constant pressure of what people are saying on social media”
“The worst thing you can do is try to battle them [on social media], but it's hard not to let it affect you,” he added.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said appointing a communications watchdog was part of its “plans to protect children and vulnerable people online and give consumers greater confidence to use technology”.
If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.
For services local to you, the national mental health database- Hub of Hope - allows you to enter your postcode to search for organisations and charities who offer mental health advice and support in your area.