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The Tragic Ending For Mike And Ashley From MTV's Catfish

The rapid advances in technology over the past few decades have certainly had an impact on the quality of human life. There was a time in recent history when if one left the house, nobody might know where they were or how to get in touch with them. These days, people feel totally exposed if they don't have their smartphones on them, and they would be totally lost without being easily accessible by everyone all of the time. 

While technology has allowed people to digitally meet and talk over great distances, it's not without its own pitfalls. This easy access has led to people impersonating others in the online world or pretending to be somebody they are not. These types of pitfalls of constant communication are highlighted well by "Catfish: The TV Show."

The MTV series, based on the 2010 film "Catfish," features an investigative crew or host dispatched to uncover the truth between two people who have only talked online. Despite claims that "Catfish" might be staged, what fans see is what the hosts truly see in their investigations. Usually, the hosts discover that at least one member of the couple is somebody completely different than what they make themselves out to be, which can sometimes lead to a moment of catharsis as the lies are exposed, or result in a potent schism of betrayal.

An episode of MTV's Catfish featured two Catfishers lying to each other

Most of the time on MTV's "Catfish," it is only one half of the online couple that has presented a false image, but sometimes it actually turns out that both are masters of obfuscation. This tends to create somewhat ironic situations where one of the lying individuals, often referred to as a "catfish," is upset that they themselves have been "catfished." In Season 2 of MTV's "Catfish," one such couple found out that both had been deceived. Season 2, Episode 10 started with a woman named Ashley, who was in love with a person known as Mike. Ashley and Mike had been in communication for seven years.

As Episode 10 progressed, Ashley revealed that she had been extensively editing her photographs because of her self-esteem issues. Eventually, she worked up the courage to show the real her to Mike. Meanwhile, "Catfish" exposed Mike, who had been using pictures of an entirely different person. Although Mike said that he was in love with Ashley, she initially did not have the same response and felt like Mike had lied to her. After taking a night to sleep on what she learned about Mike, Ashley returned to say she was not attracted to the real version of Mike. However, by the end of the episode, the audience is told that Ashley and Mike were still talking, despite their deceptions. 

Unfortunately, after the episode aired, both of their lives later took very tragic turns.

Both Mike and Ashley died within three years of their episode

In 2013, less than a month after the "Ashley & Mike" episode aired, MTV reported that Mike Fortunato had died from a pulmonary embolism at the age of 26. Ashley Sawyer, his online love, told the television network at the time, "He would give anybody the last shirt he had — anything. He would put his life on hold just to make sure other people moved forward. He always put people first." She continued, "Me and him were very much in love. We were definitely moving forward. If more people were like Mike, everybody would be a little happier in the world."

In addition to the heartbreaking loss of Mike, it was reported in 2016 by Alabama Media Group that Ashley had died from a likely heroin overdose in her apartment. Although emergency responders were called to the scene and found individuals performing CPR on Ashley, their attempts to revive her met with failure. Paramedics also administered the anti-opioid drug Narcan, but Ashley was pronounced dead at the scene. This marks a tragic chapter in MTV's television show "Catfish," and one that highlights that people should always let those they care about know that they do.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).