Society must always listen to those struggling with suicidal feelings and offer serious support, the director of a Catholic mental health project has said.
His comments come as popular TV soap Coronation Street is highlighting the issue in an on going storyline.
Many viewers have admitted that they have struggled to watch the aftermath of Aidan Connor’s suicide unfold in the long-running soap.
The businessman, who was played by Shayne Ward, took his own life, off screen, after the Monday, 7th May episodes of the show. Residents of Weatherfield were left reeling on the Wednesday, 9th May double bill when Aidan’s body was discovered.
Papyrus, the national charity for the prevention of young suicide, revealed that it had experienced its “busiest day ever” after the troubled character killed himself, prompting a flood of requests for help from young people, while other viewers took to social media, saying they were ‘utterly heartbroken’ at the scenes.
One moved fan said on Twitter: ‘Such an important and tragic storyline for #Corrie to tackle. Shocking because it seems to have come out of nowhere.
‘Almost can’t bear to watch the impact on friends and family. This may just be a story but happens in the UK every day.’
Ben Bano, director of Welcome Me as I Am, said the storyline, which aired throughout Mental Health Awareness Week (14th to 20th May), is one of great importance.
“This tragic story has resonated not just with the viewers of Coronation Street, but with many of us whose lives have been touched by the suicide of a family member or close friend. Suicide is a double tragedy – both for the person concerned as well for those left behind, such as family members who are left bereft of their loved ones,” Mr Bano told The Universe.
“We must strive to ensure that suicidal feelings are always listened to and taken seriously,” he added.
His call comes as Ward urged people to keep talking about their problems.
Warning that the scenes are ‘powerful and full of raw emotion’, Ward tweeted: ‘Keep talking everybody. I’m so proud of all your bravery in doing so. TALK-YOUR VOICE WILL BE HEARD.’ Ward also recorded a video encouraging viewers to find helplines and advice on ITV’s website.
Papyrus, which provides trained support for callers to its HopeLineUK service, said staff “worked relentlessly, without taking a break” to cope with the surge in demand after the first scenes of the storyline aired.
Charity chief executive Ged Flynn said there were “three times as many calls as a routine day” after the episodes aired.
Welcome Me as I Am provides mental health awareness training for parish communities and can also provide nationally accredited Mental Health First Aid courses. For further information visit www.welcomemeasiam.org.uk
Picture: Aidan Connor (Shayne Ward) with his father, Johnny (Richard Hawley) and sister, Kate (Faye Brookes). (ITV Plc).