Before Armstrong's suicide, another death plagued the cast of the show. In 2009, cast member Kandi Burress lost her fiancé, A.J. Jewel, when he was struck in the head and killed by people fighting outside of an Atlanta nightclub. Audiences who had cheered the couple on during their engagement were sympathetic, Ravitz said, as the show followed her dealing with the tragedy.
In Beverly Hills, however, Russell Armstrong was portrayed as controlling and unlikable on the show, and his wife had accused him of physical and verbal abuse in divorce papers she filed.
"He wasn't a really wonderful guy," said Howard Bragman, a Hollywood publicist who represents two "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" cast members. "And what the reality situation does is shine a lot of light on that and, if you have skeletons in your closet, they're going to come out and that's exactly what happened to him," Bragman said.
Dr. Janet Taylor, a psychiatrist who helps screen and counsel people that appear on the "Jeremy Kyle Show," said the pressures that Armstrong had were clear risk-factors for suicide.
"He recently got a divorce, he had financial pressure, and then he did have the stress of the show and certainly added stressors play a part," she said.
As reality TV fans reel from the news of Armstrong's death, Bravo said it will decide within 24 hours whether to air the upcoming season of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." Ravitz said fans of the show will have to face the reality that the characters portrayed on the show are real, complex people.
"[Armstrong] wasn't portrayed as a sympathetic character, he was portrayed as a villain, but when real-life characters are portrayed as good or evil, you have to realize it's a real person under there," Ravitz said.
Taylor emphasized that though Armstrong had the risk factors for suicide, those stressors--and reality TV--cannot be blamed for his suicide.
"Most people who commit suicide have an underlying mood disorder. I think we can't lose sight of that fact. I think we can't knock of all reality shows because an individual unfortunately chose to end his life," she said."