Russell Armstrong, who committed suicide this week ahead of the premiere of the new season of “Real Wives of Beverly Hills,” was “brought down” by the show, his grieving mother said yesterday (Aug. 17)

John Ann Hotchkiss told HLN on that he son suffered from the constant criticism leveled at him by other cast members, especially his estranged wife Taylor Armstrong and cast member Lisa Vanderpump.

He was particuarly anxious about the new season and how much it would focus on his relationship with his wife and his financial troubles.

“’Mom, they’re just going to crucify me this season,’” Hotchkiss said he confided in her. “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 tracks the lives of Beverly Hills couples in supposedly real-life situations.

“The bashing got so bad last season I had to stop watching. I just couldn’t bear it,” she recounted.

“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,” she added.

Armstrong was known to have financial troubles, and new reports this week also said he had sexual secrets that he thought might come out on the show.

The financier was reportedly bi-sexual, frequented gay Web sites and may have had same-sex affairs.

Armstrong was staying with a friend in a Mulholland Drive, where he hanged himself Monday night. It’s unclear whether Taylor found the body.

The coroner ruled the death a suicide, although no note was discovered at the home.

Bravo has not commented on allegations that the show played a role in the suicide and has temporarily suspended the Beverly Hills reality show.

The show also stars Dana Wilkey, Brandi Glanville, Camille Grammer, Adrienne Maloof, Kim Richards and Kyle Richards.

Bravo also host shows based in New York, Atlanta and Washington, DC.

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