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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Doctor takes own life amid media glare

Doctor takes own life amid media glare

A doctor for the French version of reality TV show Survivor committed sui-cide on Koh Rong island on Monday, leaving a note blaming the media for tainting his reputation just over a week after a contestant died in his care.

Thierry Costa, 38, was found dead in his room on Monday morning on Sok San beach, said Dr Sechou Sethychot from Preah Sihanouk Health Department, who examined the body.

Costa was found with a syringe in his hand and it is believed he killed himself by injecting anaesthetic, Sethychot told the Post, adding the medicines used were found on the scene.

Adventure Line Productions, producer of the show named KohLanta confirmed his suicide on Monday.

Costa’s suicide note, which he requested be made public, said the media had made “unfair accusations and assumptions” about his treatment of contestant Gerald Babin, who died from a heart attack during filming on the island on March 22.

The 25-year-old Babin had complained of cramps in his arms during a physical challenge on the beach and received treatment from Costa.

He was airlifted to a Sihanoukville hospital but suffered a series of cardiac arrests on route, French broadcaster TF1 and Adventure Line Productions said in a statement.

Since Babin’s death, several testimonies contradicting the official version of the tragedy have appeared in French media outlets, claiming producers delayed the doctor’s response time and interviewed Babin on camera despite the fact he appeared ill.

French authorities announced a preliminary inquiry into “involuntary homicide” to determine the cause of Babin’s death, although local authorities determined he died of natural causes.

Costa said in his suicide note he was “sure of having treated Gerald in a respectable way, as a patient and not as a contestant”.

He added: “Even though I regret this unhappy end, I acted in conformity with the Hippocratic Oath.”

The show’s 16th season was immediately scrapped after Babin’s death on the first day of filming, and the contestants were sent back to France.

Costa was one of a group of crew who stayed behind on Sok San beach to dismantle temporary infrastructure and accommodation set up for the production, John Thang, the manager of nearby resort Sok San Bungalows told the Post.

Costa had been the show’s emergency physician for four seasons, ALP said in a statement, adding: “Everyone admired his great professionalism with the participants and the production staff.”

In his suicide note, published online in full by French media, Costa asked to be cremated in Cambodia, “without ever going back to France”.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP AND REUTERS

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