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Love Island's Jacques O'Neill breaks silence on his shock exit

"It rocked me."

Love Island star Jacques O'Neil has opened up on his life after leaving the villa.

Last week, the rugby player surprised viewers with his decision to exit the ITV2 dating contest in order to prioritise his mental health, adding that he no longer felt like himself in the villa.

He had told Paige Thorne: "I just wish I could finish my journey here with you, but I'm gonna go home today. The only way I'm going to get back to myself is going home."

In an interview with The Sun, Jacques said he stayed in an apartment after leaving the show without initially being able to contact the outside world, but managed to search his name on the internet using the TV.

jacques in the beach hut on love island 2022
ITV

Related: Love Island's Jacques defended by Antigoni amid Casa Amor drama

"And I wish I didn't because the way I felt googling my name and seeing everyone hating me I didn't know what to do with myself," Jacques said.

After entering the villa on day 7, Jacques was coupled up with Paige, but the pair hit a rough patch after Casa Amor.

"I didn't sleep that night, I just stayed awake, because I was so scared of going out [of] that villa and going home and even facing people in the street," he continued.

jaques and paige, love island, episode 33
ITV

Related: Love Island USA casts bisexual contestant in new series

Jacques said he didn't have suicidal thoughts, but was upset to find what people were saying about him online.

"It rocked me. It was really scary. I was up till six in the morning, but in the end I had to knock on one of the producers' doors and just have a cuddle from them, because I just felt awful about myself, and I just wanted someone to tell me it was going to be okay," he continued.

"I just felt like it was all negative and everyone hated me," he said, adding: "I have minutes and hours when I feel down and there is nothing for me."

jacques, love island
ITV

Jacques has since reunited with his mother and is now back at their home in Leeds.

In a previous statement about Jacques' departure, a Love Island spokesperson told The Sun: "We cannot comment on any individual's medical records. However, we have rigorous and extensive checks in place to assess Islanders' physical and mental health in advance of being cleared to enter the Villa. This is something we take extremely seriously.

"Jacques made the decision to leave and we respected that decision. We would never put pressure on someone to stay in the Villa."

Love Island airs on ITV2 and is available via catch up on ITV Hub and Britbox.

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