French 'Survivor' Doctor Thierry Costa's Suicide Linked To Contestant Gerald Babin's Death
Thierry Costa, the medical doctor who worked on the French version of "Survivor," committed suicide in Cambodia, the TV series' production company confirmed Monday.
In a handwritten letter, Costa described how he was affected by the media coverage following the death of one of the program's contestants.
The hit reality show, "Koh-Lanta," tests players' survival skills by putting them through a series of challenges and rewarding success with prizes and money. Gerald Babin, a 25-year old participant, died on March 22 after suffering a heart attack during the first challenge of the 2013 season.
"These past days, my name has been smeared in the media," the 38-year-old Costa wrote in a suicide note, which he requested be made public. Addressing his 20 years in the profession, the man said he had a feeling that all his efforts were diminished by what he called misleading stories.
After receiving anonymous testimony about certain "failures" regarding Babin's death, several French journalists questioned the contestant's cause of death, along with Costa's role in his passing.
Adventure Line Productions (ALP), which produces the show, on Thursday filed a defamation suit against anyone who sought to exploit Babin's passing. However, a second witness came forward Friday and cast more doubt on the circumstances of Babin's death.
Costa served as the staff doctor on "Koh-Lanta" for four seasons, ALP confirmed in a statement. The production company commended Costa for his high level of professionalism and his humanity toward both the show's participants and production crews.
ALP also addressed the media in its statement, advising that "this tragic event should encourage those who accuse and comment indiscriminately to exercise responsibility."
As the Agence France-Presse notes, though Cambodian authorities declared Babin died of natural causes, French authorities have launched their own investigation into his cause of death.
Babin passed away during the first day of filming for the show's 2013 season. France's Channel TF1 immediately canceled the show following the contestant's death.