A doctor for the French version of Survivor has taken his own life following the death of a contestant less than two weeks ago.
French broadcaster TF1 announced that Thierry Costa, a 38-year-old physician who had worked on the popular show Koh-Lanta for several seasons, had killed himself on Monday in Cambodia, where the adventure show is filmed.
The broadcaster published a note purportedly left by Costa, in which the emergency medicine specialist said his reputation had been "unjustly" tarnished through anonymous comments published in the French press over the recent death of contestant Gérald Babin, 25.
"I am sure that I treated Gérald in a respectable manner, as a patient and not as a contestant," read the note.
"I have always tried to work hard with respect for my patients and love of medicine, and follow the Hippocratic Oath. I have the feeling today that all these efforts have been destroyed by untrue articles ... I would never dare look anyone in the eye again in France without wondering if they were full of distrust for me."
The network cancelled Koh-Lanta in late March after Babin died following the first physical challenge of the most recent season. His death occurred on the first day of shooting on the island of Koh Rong.
After a challenge that reportedly included swimming and a tug-of-war on the beach, Babin complained of pain in his arms. He was examined by doctors onsite before being airlifted to a mainland hospital. He died after suffering multiple cardiac arrests.
After Babin's death, many began criticizing the Koh-Lanta team and questioning whether production had delayed treatment of the ill man. The company behind Koh-Lanta — Adventure Line Productions — has denied accusations of negligence.
French authorities have launched an inquiry into Babin's death.
Like Survivor, Koh-Lanta transports a host of participants to an exotic, uninhabited region to compete in a series of challenges and avoid being voted out of the contest. The French show had been filming its 16th season.
Babin's death was the latest for the physically gruelling TV competition format, which typically includes mental and physical challenges for contestants, as well as reduced access to food and water. In 2009, a competitor died in the Philippines during filming of a Bulgarian version of Survivor, while a Nigerian reality show suspended production after a participant drowned in 2007.