I thought this column on Caroline Flack would be easy to write.
There is, after all, so much to say about the television presenter who took her own life on Saturday.
And as a similarly-aged presenter who has been asked by various tv and radio shows to appear and talk about the tragedy (I haven’t so far) I must have views.
But finding the worlds to express them is hard because they are wrapped in sadness, anger and guilt.
Yes, guilt. Because for all the fingers being pointed so instantly – whether the press, social media or CPS – millions of us took an interest in the dra-matic turn of events in her life, which started with the alleged beating of her boyfriend. People were hungry to know more.
I was one of them. Clicking on headlines about police being called to her London flat; reading reports she had hit Lewis Burton over the head with a lamp while sleeping.
It was shocking and we lapped it up. Pictures of her flat looking unkempt; images of blood on the front door; stories of what the neighbours had said..and so on the circus went.
I was baffled. It was a mystery. What was up in the life of this girl who seemed to have it all?
I’d enlarge images of her in the days that followed, looking for signs to solve the puzzle. Evidence of sadness or madness or an injury perhaps from the night’s events.
And yet what I saw was great clothes and make-up, an enviable figure and the kind of glowing, slightly tanned skin celebs seem magically to possess. The kind of celebrity image millions of us click on every day and think ‘she looks great.’
But she didn’t feel great. Behind the facade was a 40-year-old woman who was no different to any other with mental health issues.
We knew – or should have known – enough about her to see this. A former boyfriend once called emergency services for fear she was a danger to herself. Whispers were rife in the media she had in fact tried to slit her wrists on the night of the alleged assault – something that has in recent days been reported.
The newspapers are being blamed and yet they must report news. To publish lies or be unkind is something else entirely – but the source more guilty of this is social media which has little boundaries and whose very existence at least in present form I now question.
The Crown Prosecution Service have been rounded on too. The used powers bestowed on them to protect victims of sustained abuse too afraid to proceed to court. Yet this would seem to have been a one-off incident and Burton wanted charges dropped. More worryingly, if police really had seen a woman who had tried to take her own life, covered in her own blood on that fateful night – why were they not deafened by the alarm bells sounding for her mental state of mind?
Why weren’t they sounding for us all?
And in retrospect, why were we even able to look at crime scene pictures that should have remained confidential?
Caroline had hoped the case would be dropped and took her life the day after learning it would go ahead. It is said she was terrified of police foot-age of her that may surface.
Was it beyond the realms of possibility this would lead a suicidal woman to actual suicide? I thought this at the time and wish I had said so. Perhaps many more do too.
Perhaps we were fooled by her television personality. For how could the sassy, sexy, slow-mo-walking Queen of Love Island have problems with her mental health?
Because, when the cameras were on, she smiled. Caroline had profes-sional hair, make-up and wardrobe to transform her and I’d wager she did feel happy and alive when she was ‘fully done’ – like a different person who sparkled on our screens. But real life is not so jazz hands. Real life, as she said months before her death, often filled her with anxiety.
The mystery of Caroline Flack that so many wanted answered tragically was solved a few days ago.
We looked at her like some kind of ‘other being’ to be envied. But she was only human and a vulnerable one at that. And there’s only so much any one person can take.
It should not have taken her death to figure this out.
RIP Caroline Flack.
For the original column click here: https://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/fp/martel-maxwell-behind-the-facade-was-a-40-year-old-woman-with-mental-health-problems/