Speaking to Yahoo Lifestyle, four suitors from his season of the Channel 10 program have called for the network, and production company Warner Bros Australia, to learn from Charlie's passing and reassess their post-show aftercare to avoid the same thing happening again.
“A few of us boys that are still in contact called each other when news broke out because it’s pretty heavy,” Participant 1, who asked to remain anonymous, tells us.
“I think especially for boys we have a hard time asking for help or talking about things and I don’t think the support was long enough or frequent enough with the psychologist post-show. It can be very rough unless you get a good edit.”
Paddy Colliar, who said Charlie acted like a “big brother” to him during filming, added: “Charlie didn't get the best edit which caused a lot of negative feedback for him. I remember checking in and making sure he was okay after each episode.
“I feel the aftercare from the show could have been a lot better. They said to you they'll keep in contact and make sure we're okay, but to be honest, it didn't really feel like that. It felt like they were just telling us what we wanted to hear.”
Participant 1 expanded on this, saying: “Warner Bros and Channel 10 do a lot of tests leading up to the show but there is not enough on the follow-up and that’s where participants need the most help as it’s uncharted territory for anyone.”
'Left to our own devices'
The “uncharted territory” is something Paddy can also relate to, explaining: “I remember getting death threats at the gym where I worked after the first episode aired. I acted like it didn't affect me and laughed, but deep down it really f**king hurt.
“These keyboard warriors have no idea the damage they are really doing to someone mentally. It should be mandatory for shows to check in at least a few times a week when the show is airing, then at least once a week once it's finished to make sure everyone is actually okay.”
A third cast member (Participant 3) from Charlie's season, who also asked to remain anonymous, added: “The programs and companies have a duty of care to support these people. Not just initially, but for as long as it takes to allow rehabilitation for the trauma caused.
“We have seen this with the suicides of reality TV contestants from various shows [around the world]. To date, no one has reached out to me regarding Charlie's passing. After the show, I had mandatory calls with the psychologist. That ceased when the show finished airing and we were left to our own devices.”
Bill Goldsmith, who also appeared on Charlie's season, claims that he did ask for additional post-show support as he was struggling with how he was portrayed, but claims there was no sense of urgency to assist him.
“They took so long to get back to me I had to make them pay for me to see a psychologist [that I found myself] post-show,” he says. “Then after like three sessions with this psychologist they turned around and said that they have this other third-party psychologist that I could use. I refused to use the Channel 10 one anymore because some of what I disclosed to her when I was at my lowest made it into media stories.”
In 2019, an unnamed source connected to The Bachelor franchise claimed to Now To Love that “the psychology profiles” gathered by the support people working for the network or production company can be “used to manipulate and influence storylines [on the show].”
'Don't give a s**t'
Speaking about Charlie's mental health, Paddy explained that the late star opened up to him during filming about “some really deep personal stuff he had gone through, was still going through and was really trying to overcome” throughout production.
Whereas Bill believes the network and production company “don't give a s**t about anyone but themselves”, Participant 3 has a more balanced outlook, saying: “It's difficult to scrutinise Warner Bros or Channel 10, because they’re in the business of making money and contestants are a tool, or prop, to achieve that.”
On the subject of processing being used as a “prop” for millions of people to watch and judge, Participant 3 concluded: “Thankfully, I had great personal support and was able to overcome the trauma of being manipulated [...] and configured by producers of reality TV.
“My trauma has passed. Some aren’t as fortunate. In essence, what I’m saying is you can end up on top of the mountain, or tipped over the edge. I just wish someone had reached out to Charlie before it was too late. May he rest in peace.”
When asked if he'd like to say anything else on the subject, an emotional Paddy called for Charlie's death to be “a f**king wake-up call for shows to pull their fingers out and show more support and compassion” towards participants who appear on them.
Participant 1 also urged anybody considering applying for a reality television show to ask themselves truthfully: are you strong enough for this?
“I think the most important thing is for everyone to know that you need to evaluate how strong your mind is and how good your support network is in case things go south, and also how things are in other areas of your life.”
While Charlie’s treatment after the show may have been a contributing factor to his state of mind, there were likely other issues he was dealing with.
An anonymous friend tells Yahoo Lifestyle: “Charlie has always been a bit of a lost soul and fragile, and should never have been on TV. He was too vulnerable.”
Yahoo Lifestyle has contacted Channel 10 and Warner Bros Australia for comment.
Mental health support for yourself or a loved one can be found by calling Lifeline on 13 11 14, Mensline on 1300 789 978, or the Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800. Online support is available via Beyond Blue.
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