Posing on Valentine’s Day with one of her great loves – pug Ruby – British reality TV star Caroline Flack looked happy and relaxed.
In a strappy singlet and red lipstick, she posted four photos of the duo on Instagram with a single emoji: A heart.
The next afternoon, the vivacious former host of the UK version of Love Island – who once called herself Prince Harry’s “bit of rough” after they met and clicked – took her own life at her new flat in London’s Stoke Newington.
The suicide came hours after Flack, 40, was told she would face trial over the alleged assault last year of her boyfriend Lewis Burton, a claim she denied.
Burton claimed Flack hit him with a lamp at her former home in Islington in December, although he said he did not want to press charges.
Since news of her sudden death broke, lawyers in the UK have claimed prosecutors’ “dogged” pursuit of Flack put her already shaky mental health under pressure.
She lost her job on Love Island and she and Burton were banned from contact with each other.
Despite her outgoing nature, Flack had made no secret in her last months that she was struggling.
On October 14, she posted a photo of herself to Instagram, saying she had “been in a really weird place. I guess it’s anxiety and pressure of life … and when I actually reached out to someone they said I was draining,” Flack wrote.
“Being a burden is my biggest fear.”
The one-time actor and host of other UK reality shows including I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! was told to stay off social media after her assault charge in December.
But around Christmas, she liked a string of tweets encouraging anyone feeling lonely at Christmas to reach out for help, and shared to Instagram a post that seemed to reference her legal woes.
“This kind of scrutiny and speculation is a lot to take on for one person to take on their own,” wrote Flack.
“I’m taking some time out to get feeling better and learn some lessons from situations I’ve got myself into. I have nothing but love to give.”
While her looming court date has been blamed as one catalyst for her suicide, Flack claimed she first had mental health issues the day after she won the 2014 series of ballroom dancing reality show Strictly Come Dancing.
“I woke up and felt like somebody had covered my body in clingfilm,” she told the Daily Star.
“I couldn’t get up and just couldn’t pick myself up at all that next year.
“I felt I was being held together by a piece of string, which could snap at any time. People see the celebrity lifestyle and assume everything is perfect, but we’re just like everyone else.”
Three days before her death Flack went to an indoor climbing centre with her best friend, TV producer friend Mollie Grosberg, and apparently seemed fine.
But the next day, paramedics were called to Flack’s north London home over “concerns for her welfare” but she wasn’t taken to hospital for a clinical assessment, according to the Daily Mail.
A worried friend went to stay with her, but after she went to the shops couldn’t get back into the flat.
She called Flack’s father, Ian, who reportedly found her body.
A devastated Grosberg posted an Instagram tribute to Flack: “Carrie always had a smile on her face, a naughty laugh and her heart open wide. When she let you in, you were the luckiest.”
Out of respect for Flack’s family, ITV did not screen Love Island the night the news broke.
Burton took to social media to share a photo of the couple on holiday.
He promised to “be her voice” and said his “heart is broken”.
“I know you felt safe with me … and I was not allowed to be there this time I kept asking and asking,” Burton wrote.
A member of Flack’s management team said prosecutors should “look at themselves” for pursuing a trial against her “without merit”.
It resulted in “significant distress to Caroline”.
Reports claim that in court it was heard that while under caution Flack said she would kill herself.
Friends said she “couldn’t see a way out”, according to the Daily Mail.
Her Love Island replacement Laura Whitmore said on Radio 5 after the death, “Caroline loved to love. That’s all she wanted”.
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