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Monday 14th October 2019

Mike Thalassitis' heartbroken friends hold vigil for Love Island star

They laid flowers and released lanterns in the place where he died

The heartbroken friends of Love Island star Mike Thalassitis have held a vigil at the place where he died.

Mike, 26, was found dead in woodland in North London on Saturday morning after taking his own life.

On Sunday, police confirmed Mike - who starred on the show in 2017 - died of suicide by hanging.

Mike was found dead last weekend after taking his own life (Credit: ITV)

Read more: Final photo of Mike Thalassitis and his beloved nan before their deaths

Candles were lit and lanterns were sent flying into the sky in his memory.

His friend Michelle shared pictures and video clips of the vigil and wrote: "Goodnight @MikeThalassitis Catch those lanterns in the sky."

The video showed a tree adorned with flowers and tributes to the star.

She also shared another clip of his friends releasing lanterns into the sky, captioned: "For @MikeThalassitis."

There were also close up images of the heartfelt messages and floral tributes that have been left for Mike.

In the wake of his death, and that of fellow Love Island contestant Sophie Gradon, the show came under fire from former islanders, fans and even the Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who said they have a duty of care for islanders after they become famous.

Sophie, who appeared on the show in 2016, was found dead at her home in Ponteland, Northumberland, in June last year and it was believed she had taken her own life.

However, this week Sophie's parents said they believe there is nothing to support claims that she died by suicide.

Love Island responded by making changes to its aftercare policy.

They said it had undertaken a review of its aftercare six months ago and hired Dr Paul Litchfield, an experienced physician and a Chief Medical Officer, to "review our medical processes" on the programme.

Mike's death has caused fans to hit out at the show (Credit: ITV)

Following the review, the show has said it will offer support to all contestants rather than just those who ask for it.

A statement said: "Everyone at Love Island is so shocked and absolutely devastated with the tragic news of Mike Thalassitis.

"Since the terrible news there have been a lot of people questioning Love Island's processes and aftercare. Many of the things that have been said about them bear no relation to the support we offer.

Sophie passed away last year (Credit: ITV)

"Our duty of care is a continuous and ongoing process for each Islander. This follows three key stages; pre-filming, filming, and aftercare. We work with both an independent GP and a psychological consultant to provide an assessment of the physical and mental health of each of the shortlisted cast members and their suitability for inclusion on the programme."

The statement continued: "Care continues whilst the Islanders are in the villa. We have a medical team on location which includes a psychological consultant.

"When the time comes for each Islander to leave the show, our aftercare process kicks in. Every Islander has a series of debrief meetings on location with the executive team and the medical team, including the psychological consultant.

"After this, they are told how to access aftercare support as well as information on seeking professional representation. They also meet with the press team the day after leaving the villa and are briefed and advised on their press coverage whilst in the villa.

The show has been criticised for its aftercare for contestants (Credit: ITV)

"We have always recognised that this should be an evolving process and six months ago we engaged Dr Paul Litchfield, an experienced physician and a Chief Medical Officer, to independently review our medical processes on Love Island.

"This review has led us to extend our support processes to offer therapy to all Islanders and not only those that reach out to us. And we will be delivering bespoke training to all future Islanders to include social media and financial management.

"The key focus will be for us to no longer be reliant on the islanders asking us for support but for us to proactively check in with them on a regular basis."

You can read ITV's full statement here.

Former contestants of the show have recently called for the show to offer better aftercare (Credit: ITV)

Former contestants of the show have recently called for the show to offer better aftercare.

Dom Lever, who appeared on Love Island the same year as Mike, in 2017, wrote on Twitter: "You get a psychological evaluation before and after you go on the show but hands down once you are done on the show you don't get any support unless you're number one."

Dom's wife Jess Shears, who appeared on the same run of the show, posted: "Shows offer you 'support' but realistically it's only while you are in their care.

"Minute you get home and are no longer making them money it's out of sight out of mind."

Read more: Jack Tweed breaks down in tears at Jade's grave on 10 year anniversary of her death

If you or someone you know are struggling with mental illness or suicidal thoughts, call the Samaritans on 116 123.

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