Reality check: 'Someone will take their own life'

Haydn has been struggling with anxiety since appearing on Married At First Sight. Photo: Supplied via NZME.
Haydn has been struggling with anxiety since appearing on Married At First Sight. Photo: Supplied via NZME.

Warning: This article discusses suicide and depression, and could be distressing to some readers.

Former Married At First Sight NZ star Haydn Daniels says someone will die if reality TV producers in New Zealand don't change their practices.

Following the recent death of a guest who appeared on reality talk-show The Jeremy Kyle Show, Kiwi broadcasters Three and TVNZ say they are reviewing their policies on how they care for contestants.

For Daniels, it's news that couldn't have come soon enough, and while skeptical, he says he hopes they make the necessary changes before it's too late.

Speaking to Newstalk ZB, Daniels says he himself was "pretty depressed" because of the "fallout" from the show and says a death as a result of a show "could definitely happen here".

"It's tough because it will get to that point where someone will take their own life and then suddenly they will care and that's a real shame because I don't think it should ever get to that point.

"It could definitely happen here, I really believe it could if they don't change their practices, and hopefully they do."

Daniels has been outspoken about the lack of care he and fellow castmates received following before, during and after their stint on MAFS.

Daniels claims the pre-show care they were given was just "checking the boxes, covering our ass type things", in-show care came complete with cameras ready to clock the action, and post-show care was non-existent, saying: "We were just the commodities that were thrown away at the end of the day."

He's been in ongoing therapy ever since his appearance two years ago, for anxiety - not helped by the fact that he is still negotiating his divorce from reality wife Bel Clarke. He also says a fellow contestant became "suicidal" as a result of social media backlash.

He says seeing headlines about Jeremy Kyle is "hard" to deal with because "it could've been me".

I get quite emotional about those kinds of things because I think it could've been me, it could've been someone I knew through the show.

"I can see how those people could've unfortunately got to that point and its so sad because it shouldn't happen - it's TV and it's entertainment. It just shouldn't get to that point. I just don't want that to happen on reality tv in New Zealand... it's just not worth it."

Mediaworks has always maintained that there is psych-testing as part of the application process and support available throughout filming and after the show has ended.

Three also told Spy that prior to committing to the show, participants are "thoroughly advised on what to expect once they are in the public eye. Post-filming, they are also given advice and guidance on navigating their way as a public figures".

A MediaWorks' spokeswoman said: "We regularly review our duty of care policies across all shows to ensure they are robust and fitting for each show."

Daniels says it's "really good" the issues are being talked about and says he hopes other people "don't have to go through the same thing we did".

Need help?

• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• Samaritans 0800 726 666
• If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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