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Reality TV: The death of us?

In the wake of Russell Armstrong’s suicide, many people are wondering about the affect that reality TV has on those who are portrayed in these shows. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Russell Armstrong, he was the husband to Taylor Armstrong in the first season of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. During this season, Taylor was very open with her marital problems and looked very unhappy in her marriage to Russell. In July, Taylor filed for divorce saying she endured “ongoing verbal and physical abuse” during the six year marriage. Russell was dealing with financial problems in addition to his marriage falling apart, which is said to be what drove him to take his own life.

Taylor Armstrong on the Wendy Williams show discussing Russell

Sadly, this isn’t the first person to commit suicide after being on a reality TV show. Most of us can remember the lady who killed herself in front of Paula Abdul’s house after being rejected from “American Idol”. We later found out she was an Abdul-obsessed whack-job, but still, there are roughly 10 other people who have committed suicide after taping their reality shows.

What does this say about reality TV? That it drives people crazy enough to be suicidal? Absolutely not. I do not believe that negative attention or public scrutiny resulting from being on a reality TV show could possibly be the sole factor in one’s suicide. Hear me when I say “sole factor” so you don’t think I’m a cold-hearted bitch. After doing some research, I found that a good number of these people also suffered from mental illnesses ranging from depression to bipolar disorder prior to appearing on TV. Take a mental illness and a couple jabs from America’s people… also throw in a public break-up and maybe some money troubles and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster. You never know exactly how sensitive people will be to the public humiliation they endure on reality TV so these television shows should not be frowned upon or looked at as though they are the only cause.

My advice to those venturing into the reality TV world: make sure you’ve got yourself some tough skin, that your brain isn’t out of whack and lastly, don’t get in a bathing suit unless you’re completely comfortable with your body in it (fat jokes are the worst).

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