Russell Armstrong's Mother Accuses Bravo in Son's Suicide

Thu Aug 18, 2011 7:02am EDT

Updated Thursday 11 a.m. PT

Bravo came in for more criticism when the mother of Russell Armstrong, who committed suicide this week ahead of the premiere of the new season of “Real Wives of Beverly Hills,” said the show “brought him down.”

John Ann Hotchkiss, interviewed on HLN on Wednesday evening, said Armstrong suffered from being criticized on the show by other cast members, and was anxious about the new season.

“’Mom, they’re just going to crucify me this season,’” he told his mother recently, Hotchkiss said. “I don’t know what to do. I’ll never survive it.’”

She added: “I thought he meant business-wise.”

Hotchkiss said her son’s marriage was destroyed by the reality show, which depicts the lives of well-to-do Beverly Hills couples in a real-life soap opera. And she said he was wounded  by criticism of other cast-members, especially Lisa Vanderpump.

“The bashing got so bad last season I had to stop watching. I just couldn’t bear it. I said, 'Russell can’t you stop this?'” Hotchkiss recalled. “He said, ‘No. All the network cares about are ratings. They don’t care if people are hurt, or if it destroys their marriage.’ And I watched it slowly destroy their marriage.”

Variety is reporting, meanwhile, that Russell Armstrong threatened his wife's castmates with legal action if they talked about his marital troubles in front of the cameras during filming this summer. The production company behind the show, Evolution Film & Tape, was also apparently threatened with legal action.

Armstrong had financial troubles, and said in an interview with People last month that the show had "literally pushed us to the limit."

Armstrong had been estranged from his wife Taylor when she found him in a house on Los Angeles' Mulholland Drive on Monday night. The coroner ruled the death a suicide by hanging. No note was discovered at the home. He was 47.

Bravo has not commented on allegations that the show played a role in the suicide.

Related Articles:  Lawyer: Russell Armstrong Spent Savings to Make Wife Famous on 'Housewives' The 'Real Housewives' Legacy of Marital Destruction and Financial Ruin