Reactions to news that a guest on The Jeremy Kyle show died shortly after appearing in an episode.
Dr Michael Bloomfield, Excellence Fellow, Head of Translational Psychiatry Research Group and Consultant Psychiatrist, University College London (UCL), said:
“There is a lack of good quality scientific evidence on the relationship between participating in reality television and risk of suicide. As a practising psychiatrist my clinical opinion is that production companies should have a duty of care to make sure people who take part in programmes are offered assessment, support and follow-up when appropriate. Production companies should also ensure that their programmes are not potentially psychologically traumatising or re-traumatising for participants.”
Prof Allan Young, Professor of Mood Disorders, Institute of Psychiatry Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London (IoPPN), said:
“People who’ve had clinical depression have suffered from a serious medical disorder and very often remain vulnerable thereafter.
“I think anyone that deals with them, whether it be a private individual, a television company or any other organisation has a duty of care to that individual to take that into account.
“It’s a little bit akin to if someone’s had a broken leg and the bones have knitted but the muscles and so on haven’t fully recovered: they wouldn’t then be encouraged to run a marathon.
“I think there’s a general ignorance about the realities of mental health. But these are not uncommon disorders.
“The TV companies that are running a reality show should be thinking about the mental health everyone involved.
“Our resilience to stress is markedly reduced after a period of depression. There is an important duty of care involved. Getting a doctor’s letter to say it’s OK may not be enough – we should consider all of the potential consequences.”
Prof Sir Simon Wessely, President Royal College of Psychiatrists & Chair of Psychological Medicine and Vice Dean, Institute of Psychiatry Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London (IoPPN), said:
“I think it should be dropped, actually. It’s the theatre of cruelty. And yes, it might entertain a million people a day, but then again, so did Christians Versus Lions.
“Of course, the show will not be the only factor implicated. But like all social media, this show is an amplifying/force multiplier. Shame/guilt is a very powerful emotion, and we know that it can precipitate a “breakdown” to use the vernacular, just as with a family context, or in a tight social group such as an army unit. So, it’s not difficult to imagine that this is multiplied when the audience is a million.
“Plus, the idea that as the programme website says “Jeremy is here to help” is stretching the verb “to help” beyond any normal meaning of help, it’s almost an offence under the trades description act.
“Ronald Reagan used to say that the most frightening words in the English language is “I am from the government and I am here to help you” I suspect substitute “my name is Jeremy Kyle and I am here to help you”
Prof Wessely: Is a trustee of the SMC
None Others Received