Real Housewives husband Russell Armstrong's suicide has cast a dark cloud over the reality TV series as well as the entire reality TV industry. Russell Armstrong is survived by his estranged wife, Taylor Armstrong, and their young daughter.
It is an apparent suicide, with no suicide note found, and no signs of foul play, according to ABC News.
Russell Armstrong, 47, was a venture capitalist and financier. He faced domestic problems with his wife, Taylor Armstrong, who has told the press their marriage was abusive. On the professional side, he also faced a $1.5 million lawsuit from investors, according to Reuters.
Whatever the reason behind Russell Armstrong's suicide is, the fact is that any suicide is tragic. It will mean a loss of a father for his young daughter, and the loss of a loved one and friend for all those that knew him.
The Real Housewives suicide is also a disturbing trend. Reality TV is often linked to cases of depression amongst its cast members. The networks, however, often have their stars sign hefty disclaimers and waivers in their contracts before they put them on screen.
Networks often hire psychologists and counselors to help screen contestants with mental health problems according to TheWrap, though this may not go far enough. When the cameras stop rolling, it's up to the reality TV stars themselves to cope with the mental stress of increased fame and scrutiny from the American public.
And tragically, for many, it can simply be too much. If someone has their most embarrassing and most personal moments aired on national television, is anybody surprised that the effects can be emotionally destructive?
Some might argue networks need to do more to ensure the mental welfare of reality TV stars. But, when the camera stops rolling, is it really the liability of the networks to ensure the safety of their contestants or stars?
A case like Russell Armstrong's suicide goes to show the controversial (and personal) nature of reality TV shows like Real Housewives. And, while some may find it distasteful, it's probable that Russell and Taylor Armstrong's domestic drama will still be aired on television for viewers to see.