There aren't many things that can bring no-nonsense My Kitchen Rules judge Colin Fassnidge to tears. But in July last year, the chef's world came crashing down when his friend and fellow chef Jeremy Strode took his own life.
It's clear the devastating loss is still hard for Colin to grasp.
"It knocked me around for a long time," Colin, 44, tells TV WEEK as he rubs his forehead in sadness and disbelief.
"He was one of my best friends. He was a big chef in Sydney. He was married with kids. He had his good days, but one day, he just had a bad day."
Jeremy was 53 when he died. The English-born chef and devoted father-of-three was an ambassador for suicide-prevention charity R U OK?.
Recalling the moment he received the phone call about the heartbreaking news, Colin takes a deep breath.
"Mental illness is massive in our industry," the Irish chef explains.
He adds that the long hours, pressure and isolation can take its toll.
"When I heard the news, it really knocked me down," he says.
"I think it's starting to become a bigger issue in this industry. But it's not just our industry. It's in the police force, offices – everywhere."
According to the Black Dog Institute, one in five – 20 per cent – of Australians aged 16 to 85 experience a mental illness in any year. The most common ones are depression and anxiety disorder.
It's a state of mind Colin can relate to.
"Yeah, I've had tough times," he admits. "Who hasn't? There have been times when you've had awards [restaurant ratings] taken off you, or your business isn't doing well. That can get you down…
"But I always tried to find the positives. That's not always easy, though."
Colin joined Manu Feildel and Pete Evans on the hit reality show back in 2013 – catapulting him into national fame.
"I have learnt that TV Land isn't what everyone tells you it is," Colin admits. "It's actually not a very nice land – on the outside.
"It's competitive and everyone wants to know your business. I mean, there are some great stories written out there, but there are some where you're like, 'How do you get away with that?' And when it drags on, it gets a bit annoying."
It's for this reason that Colin restrains himself when it comes to social media.
"I try not to read the comments [online] anymore," he says.
"I used to fight everybody and everything [when he'd read negative online remarks] when I first started on the show. But now I'm like, 'Just let it go, man.'"
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