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France

French TV doctor commits suicide, blames media

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2013-04-03

A doctor working on the set of a popular French reality show has committed suicide following the death of a contestant. In his suicide note, he blamed the media for “sullying” his name and reputation.

The doctor responsible for the cast and crew of France’s most popular reality TV show “Koh Lanta” has committed suicide following the death of a contestant on the programme’s Cambodian set.

In his suicide note, Dr Thierry Costa (photo), 38, said the media had “sullied” his name after contestant Gérald Babin suffered a heart attack on the first day of filming.

Babin, 25, collapsed after a game of tug-of-war, was evacuated from the island and subsequently died in hospital.

It was the first death of a contestant in the history of French reality TV, prompting broadcaster TF1 to axe the hugely popular show while it was filming its 16th season.

In the subsequent media storm, anonymous allegations were made about Costa’s treatment of Babin and interference from the production company.

On Wednesday, March 27, media news site "Arrets sur Images" quoted an unnamed source alleging that Dr Costa had been prevented from giving first aid immediately.

The witness added that once Dr Costa had been permitted to attend to the contestant, he was told to re-enact the whole scene so that it could be re-filmed.

Name ‘sullied’

“My name has been sullied in the media,” Dr Costa wrote in his note, adding that he had treated Babin “respectably … as a patient and not as a contestant”.

“In the 20 years since I started in medicine, I have always worked hard and respected my patients, with a love for medicine and according to the Hippocratic Oath.

“Today I feel that all these efforts have been destroyed by untrue articles. I can never look anyone in the eye in France without wondering if they were full of distrust.”

Dr Costa killed himself by injecting a lethal dose of surgical general anaesthetic.

French judges on Tuesday demanded that the production company Adventure Line Productions (ALP) hand over all recorded material from the show.

The Cambodian authorities, meanwhile, said that Babin had died of natural causes.

Costa had been the show’s doctor for the last four seasons. ALP, which has announced it will be taking legal action against news media that published the anonymous accusations, said in a statement that “everyone admired his great professionalism with the participants and the production staff".

Date created : 2013-04-02

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