The doctor for a French “Survivor”-style reality TV show that began shooting in Cambodia last month was found dead Monday morning in an apparent suicide on Koh Rong, off the coast of Sihanoukville, according to police.
The death of Dr. Thierry Costa, 38, comes 10 days after 25-year-old Gerald Babin, a contestant on “Koh-Lanta,” France’s version of the U.S. “Survivor” series, died of a heart attack while taking part in the first challenge of the show’s 16th season. Production of the show was canceled indefinitely.
Dr. Thierry Costa’s body was found at 4 a.m. at Sok San Bungalows along with a syringe and suicide note, according to Kang Rithy, Koh Rong commune police chief. His body has been returned to Phnom Penh, Mr. Rithy added.
“When we arrived at the scene, we saw a syringe in his right hand that he used to kill himself,” Mr. Rithy said.
Sechou Sethychout, deputy director of the Preah Sihanouk provincial health department, said that the Frenchman’s death appeared to be suicide.
“Based on preliminary findings, we have concluded that the Frenchman committed suicide by injecting anesthesia into his body,” Mr. Sethychout said.
In a two-page suicide note, copies of which were released by French media, Dr. Thierry Costa says that he ended his own life because rebuilding his reputation, which he said was destroyed by media coverage that blamed him for Gerald Babin’s death, would be “unbearable.”
“These days, my name has been smeared in the media,” the note says. “Unjust accusations and assumptions were uttered against me.”
French media outlets, including news website Freeze Frame, quoted anonymous sources saying that Gerald Babin’s death was due in part to negligence on the part of Dr. Thierry Costa.
Gerald Babin experienced violent cramps while participating in a tug-of-war competition on Koh Rong, and then suffered an initial heart attack on a boat bringing him from the island to Sihanoukville. The 25-year-old was revived by doctors, but suffered a second heart attack on a helicopter as it transported him to the provincial referral hospital in Sihanoukville. He was pronounced dead on arrival.
Dr. Thierry Costa wrote in the suicide note that he was deeply saddened by the event, but that he had followed the Hippocratic oath in his treatment of Gerald Babin.
“I have always strived to work on my patients with respect and love of medicine…. Now I have this feeling that all these efforts were nullified by false articles,” the note says.
Further investigations into Dr. Thierry Costa’s death will be conducted only if requested by his family, said Nicolas Baudouin, first secretary at the French Embassy in Phnom Penh.
“It seems that preliminary indications point to suicide,” Mr. Baudouin said.