Hayley Matthews: Death of a celebrity down to trolls and tabloids but also public’s pressure

The death of Caroline Flack should lead to a culture of building each other up, instead of pulling others down, writes Hayley Matthews.
From the outside looking in it seemed that Caroline Flack had it all (Picture: AFP/Getty)From the outside looking in it seemed that Caroline Flack had it all (Picture: AFP/Getty)
From the outside looking in it seemed that Caroline Flack had it all (Picture: AFP/Getty)

There is so much I want to say about Caroline Flack that I’d end up writing for hours and I’m sure you’ve read many of the tributes and messages of sympathy pouring in. To say it is absolutely heart-breaking, shocking and unbelievably sad is an epic understatement.

A young woman who on the outside looked as if she had it all with the confidence to present in front of millions on live TV, take on the press and with nothing fazing her, just makes it seem so shocking that it should end like this. For her to decide suicide was her only way out, the pressure must have been unbearable and is a stark illustration of how dark a place someone can be in whilst dealing with the real picture deep down.

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I personally blame the hounding and invasion of privacy being plastered all over the tabloid press for her death as well as the CPS for pushing the case. But to whoever sold the picture of her blood-spattered bedroom to the press needs held highly responsible because many of us are sharp enough to not believe everything we read but a picture leaves very little to the imagination.

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We also have to take the blame for buying, clicking and goading over the personal lives of celebrities for our own entertainment. There definitely needs to be protection from the press but the trolling also needs to be controlled.

I’ve had brief experiences of being trolled in the public eye and I’m shocked at how nasty and jealous people can be. My worst experience came at a time when I was in a very bad place. I’d been made redundant from a really well paid manager’s job after ten years, had a lot of stress with a recent relationship break-up and the selling/moving of home as well as the pressure of seeming “OK” in a new relationship. I had been selected through Facebook to model for Michelle Mone as a Real Woman in a national campaign and at a size 18, quite depressed and not feeling my best was hesitant but I put myself out there anyway.

The pictures were all over the country and admittedly the dress I had on wasn’t the most flattering of tight black satins but still I don’t think I deserved half the hate messages I got. It was relentless for months. However, despite all the comments I stood my ground – none of these trolls had ever met me, had no idea that I’m actually a very kind and generous person and concluded that they were trying to tear me down from their sad little keyboard to make themselves feel better. Jealousy is a terrible poison. The attitude that you can say anything from a keyboard and not be held accountable has to end now.

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So whilst I think the tabloid press are hugely to blame for the death of Caroline Flack, we also need to take a huge chunk of that responsibility. I’m not perfect but try to learn from mistakes when my actions or words have hurt others and I’m very conscious of it. If you’re saying words to someone with the intention of hurting them and destroying their life then I think you have to look at what that says about you as a person.

Lastly, it’s wonderful how many people are pouring in with love and admiration for Caroline, although sadly it is all in vain and all too late for her. Why were you all not shouting from the rooftops and offering support when she needed you?

Maybe if we all start to lean towards a culture of building each other up instead of pulling each other down, there will be less depression, less hurt and less suicide. It’s OK to not be OK and for goodness sake all those of you plastering “be kind” all over social media – practice what you’re preaching.