Jacques O’Neill quit the villa in scenes aired earlier this week, following controversy over his behavior during the infamous Casa Amor episodes and the reintroduction of “bombshell” former contestant Adam Collard. The 23-year-old said he felt he could no longer be himself.
Love Island has said it takes its duty of care for contestants “extremely seriously” after star Jacques O’Neill told how appearing on the show was “the worst decision of my life” in an interview given after his shocking early exit.
Following controversy over the controversial Casa Amor episodes, in which fresh “bombshell” competitors are introduced, the 23-year-old decided to quit his stint in the TV villa.
He expressed to the remaining Love Island contestants that he felt he wasn’t being himself in emotional scenes that were shown earlier this week.
“I’m trying my best but I’m not a fake person and I’m not going to start faking things and act like I’m okay when things inside aren’t actually okay,” he said.
Jacques has just opened out about his issues with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in a new interview with The Sun that he uploaded on social media. He claimed that the TV villa was “the worst decision of my life” and that he “couldn’t cope” there.
Jacques stated in his interview, “I was prepared to crumble. I just wanted to go home and recharge my brain since I was feeling so mentally tired.
“It broke me and I was already broken. I was crying my eyes out. I couldn’t cope. I was literally feeling awful. It was the worst I’d ever felt in my life.”
A spokesperson for Love Island told Sky News the show has “rigorous and extensive checks in place” to assess contestants’ physical and mental health in advance of being cleared for the show. “This is something we take extremely seriously,” they added.
Jacques stated he believed it was best to leave for the sake of his relationship with Paige Thorne, 24, so he could be at his “best” for her when he revealed his surprise exit to the Love Island group.
When it was discovered that the rugby player had kissed newbie Cheyanne Kerr while Paige was away in Casa Amor, he spent many days attempting to win her back.
Following those moments, Adam Collard, a contentious competitor who had earlier featured in a 2018 series, was reintroduced to Love Island and expressed interest in Paige.
Jacques admitted to The Sun that he had started to fear that “things could go horribly wrong.”
He continued: “At home, you can remove yourself from situations, but there you had to deal with every situation, and at that moment I took my microphone off and walked straight through the front doors because I just wanted to get out of that place.”
Jacques, a Leeds native, took a flight back to the UK on Tuesday and saw his old rugby team, the Castleford Tigers, on Wednesday.
Days prior to moving into the villa, the rugby club officially announced that he had been released from his reality show contract and that they would have first dibs on his re-signing should he decide to return to rugby league.
Speaking about Jacques leaving the hit show to protect his mental health, head coach Lee Radford said: “Like any walk of life there are obstacles in front of you, unfortunately. Making sure people are around you – whether that be your family or club related – to help you deal with that is pretty important.”
ITV released a whole new set of duty of care processes in May 2019 in advance of the fifth series.
For the most recent season, they improved those processes and started providing competitors with inclusion training before they entered the villa, covering language and behavior.
In their full statement in response to Jacques’ interview, the Love Island spokesperson said: “We cannot comment on any individual’s medical records owing to confidentiality and our own duty of care towards the Islanders, however, we have rigorous and extensive checks in place to assess Islanders’ physical and mental health in advance of being cleared to enter the Villa. This is something we take extremely seriously.
“As we said at the time, Jacques made the decision to leave and we respected that decision. Islanders are welcome to leave should they choose to do so and we would never put pressure on someone to stay in the Villa.”