October 19, 2012 by rhsmassmedia
Dark Side of Reality Television Spotlighted As Networks Struggle With Growing Number of Cast Suicides
Last year, Chef Joe Cerniglia, a 2007 “Kitchen Nightmares” participant jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge. Three years earlier Rachel Brown of “Hell’s Kitchen” fatally shot herself, more than a year after competing in the Gordon Ramsay cooking competition.
Similarly, Cheryl Kosewicz, a former deputy District Attorney from Reno, killed herself soon after she was booted from CBS reality show “Pirate Master.” Boxer Najai Turpin also took his life just weeks before the series premiere of NBC’s “The Contender.”
Other shows like “Teen Mom,” “The Supernanny,” “American Idol” and “Paradise Hotel” have also had tragic connections to contestant deaths and suicide attempts.
One expert says the numbers are no coincidence and that reality show producers are purposely seeking people who are emotionally unstable.
“Many individuals who may otherwise be considered volatile and/or perhaps mentally unstable are often bubbled to the top of casting lists because of their potential to drive ratings,” explained Alec Shankman, former reality star talent agent and founder of the online casting agency, GotCast.com.
“It’s not that instant fame drives people to do bad things, but rather some folks who are pre-disposed to doing bad things are unfortunately given instant fame and then the bad things they do are thrown into the spotlight,” he added.
Still, former “Real World” star Diem Brown says networks cannot be held responsible for what happens when the cameras start rolling.
“These reality people are not actors,” Brown told Tarts. “The things that happen in their lives are not scripted, so when life starts to throw curve balls and hardships at them, the pressure to keep it together while the world watches and comments is intense.”