I did not personally know Caroline Flack. Her death and the pressures she was put under have focused attention not only upon mental health issues but also stress which celebrities are forced to put up with, the trolls who generally have nothing of value to say but insist on saying it, the media which builds people up to knock them down, the police and Crown Prosecution Service and the policymakers who insist that one size fits all. Before we can find any kind of answer we should at least honestly face up to the issues which we as a society have created.

Let us start with the media and programs like Love Island which are so popular. The television companies do not want regular people in regular jobs. They look for the eccentric or the loud or the beautiful people. This is bound to lead to the vulnerable being recruited and the more they are built up and the more they are told they are stars the bigger the crash and the more the hurt when things start going the other way I suggest the TV executives should take their place in the dock.

Often at the root of the problem is money. That is not to say they do not have any but they do not have enough to fund the kind of life which they believe they should be leading, because the media paints an image which is far from normal but presented as something everyone not only can but importantly should achieve. Take your place in the dock those who paint a false image of life and pretend it is reality for everyone making many who don’t achieve it feel like failures, when in truth the successes and virtues far outweigh what they seek to achieve. If nothing else we have learned this week that money and fame are not the currency of happiness.

Let us now look at the CPS which has come under so much criticism. Often victims over many years have decided not to go on with it the cases dropped in some months later the cycle starts again and some brute beats their partner to a pulp and the victim finds herself back at A&E. The police and prosecution naturally have felt over many years increasingly frustrated and the bullyboys have reigned supreme. The victims go into their shell and head towards what is referred to as mental illness but is merely pain and suffering without any help in practice being available from those to whom the victim turns. It is not surprising therefore that the CPS take a more robust view than they used to and if the evidence is there or go ahead even though there key witness doesn’t want to go ahead.

Finally I turn to the trolls. These are insecure unimportant people, trying to become noticed through creating a new persona. Insensitive often unthinking but sometimes intentionally wicked. Some of you may feel sorry for them because they too have problems. They too probably have been rejected on many levels in society. But instead of facing it and fighting it and standing proud and achieving something they seem to delight in firing arrows at other people and bringing them down. We may all remember the school yard bully picking on the awkward or overweight person in the class but now it is magnified way beyond the size of the playground by social media and household names who fail to police the platforms which make them so much profit. In the virtual world of trolls they believe they have a voice which in the real world they do not without being accountable rather than faceless. The high profile attained by people who become ‘influencers’ only encourages this. The willingness of large companies to pay influencers for product placement and marketing fuels the trolls who also want to be famous. Unfortunately faceless trolls do get to affect many victims who simply cannot achieve the fiction painted as reality on the various social media platforms and most importantly see this as some kind of failure on their behalf. Trolls take your place in the dock – and sit at the front!

I will not go on and on because there was enough above. The sad death of a girl who seemed to have it all has bought all this back to the forefront of the news. Underneath the façade she was clearly deeply troubled. All our hearts go out to her family and friends.  Some may blame themselves but to do so would be to miss the big picture. Close friends and family will have done what they could to help or may not have known everything. Hangers on will probably stay around for the publicity and then move on.

And so the circle will continue UNLESS we start tackling this problem afresh. Legislators move away from one size fits all and individual people are again treated as individuals not numbers. All types of mental health must be addressed. Of course where there is a danger to the public the public must be protected but seeing an old lady with dementia shouting in the street must no longer be something to which a passer by turns a blind eye. Being different must no longer be regarded as being strange but redefined as being interesting. Where help is needed it should be funded and if there are not enough funds then priorities should be looked at again. Tackling this problem will save money for the National Health Service further down the line.

Is there hope? I think the answer is ‘yes’ because when I look at young schoolchildren their attitude to people who are different from what they are seems to me far better and more inclusive than it was when I was at school. I really hope that the loss of Caroline will somehow kick-start us all along the road to improvement and hers will be a death which really achieves things, (as she did in her life) albeit we all wish the price to pay in order to deal with these issues would not be losing her. RIP

This blog was written by:  Stephen Fox

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