Last week I had no idea who Charlotte Dawson was. Not that I bury my head in the sand but some days all those celebrities just blur in to one. However after her very public breakdown on twitter every journalist had an opinion on Charlotte.
For those who missed it, Charlotte Dawson is the host of Australia’s Next Top Model amongst many things. She is outspoken and seems to have left little of her private life private. Some of the things she has spoken out about are online bullies and trolls.
She is very passionate about naming and shaming them however her latest attempt back fired significantly. Detailing how she exposed a troll on A Current Affair saw her become the focus of relentless abuse over one evening. This continued harassment saw Charlotte deteriorate very quickly where she ended up in St Vincent’s hospital.
Charlotte was admitted in the early hours of Thursday 30 August and just days later 60 Minutes had lined up their interview with her. Of course we can see by now Charlotte lives her life in the media. However, after such a public breakdown that triggered her depression, is this the best place for her to be right now?
Sometimes you can’t help but think ‘we are our own worst enemy’, and when that is so, we need those around us to protect us from ourselves.
It was clear from the interview Charlotte was in recovery. Her eyes were glassy and she looked like she needed friends more than a camera crew. But in the chase for the absolute exclusive the producers and/or Tara Brown did not seem to consider this.
They asked her to read the derogatory and harmful tweets, and Charlotte obliged. While that was giving oxygen to trolls, Tara Brown was giving oxygen to what caused her breakdown in the first place.
When someone identifies with living with or recovering from a mental illness and has a relapse, we in the media have a duty of care. Charlotte’s story about trolls is important, and it sparked a debate we need to have. However we can do that without putting those in recovery at further risk.
By no means is Charlotte a victim, and of course she needs to speak out – just like she always has. But isn’t a few short days after a relapse a bit too soon 60 Minutes?
Or would you just put that down to collateral damage?