Coronation Street is to highlight the important issue of male suicide when Aidan Connor tragically takes his own life.
In episodes to be screened the week of May 7th viewers will hear that Johnny Connor has discovered his son’s body at his Victoria Street flat, after Aidan failed to turn up for work at the factory.
As the news of what Aidan has done spreads, his devastated family and friends try to come to terms with the shock of their loss and begin to question why they hadn’t spotted any signs that he was struggling to cope with life.
Viewers will last see Aidan on screen on Monday 7th May when he goes to see Eva at the cottage where she is living after giving birth to baby Susie, before returning to a family party at the Rovers. His final scene will see him back at his flat alone. No element of the suicide will be shown on screen.
Actor Shayne Ward, the writers and production team, have worked closely with charities Samaritans and CALM to ensure the storyline is handled sensitively and realistically.
Shayne Ward said:
“I am honoured to have been trusted with a storyline like this, it shows the confidence that Kate and the team had in me to be able to play it. When you get given a storyline like this it is a decision that is not taken lightly, I have played it with as much honesty and truth as I could. I am very proud of what I have done in my three years on the show and on this storyline in particular.
“Aidan is an ‘everyman’ figure, he is someone men can identify with, which is important in telling this story."
We hope that anyone who recognises something of themselves in Aidan, will realise they can, and really should, talk about how they’re feeling.
“Talking could have helped Aidan to turn his life around. It could have brought him relief from what he was going through. This is what his loved ones would have wanted. Suicide is a very permanent response to what are usually temporary problems.
“We all know someone who has maybe felt like Aidan did, someone who found it hard to talk and we have all heard stories like Aidan’s when it was too late, when people looked back and wished they had spotted the signs, but it isn’t always possible. If we can encourage someone who is feeling low, who is having the sort of thoughts Aidan was having, to realise they need to talk, then we have achieved what we set out to with this story.”
Coronation Street Producer Kate Oates said:
“Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in this country. With 84 men taking their lives each week, we quite simply can’t afford to not talk about it.
“Aidan’s story, bravely and brilliantly tackled by Shayne Ward, is designed to give people who hide their feelings of desperation a chance to start a conversation, letting someone know what they’re going through. Through this story, we want to assure anyone who feels suicidal that there is always someone who wants to listen and support you: whether a friend, family member, or one of the brilliant charities we have been working with throughout this story.”
We want to tell people that however bleak they are feeling, there is always another way.
Ruth Sutherland, CEO of Samaritans
“We were pleased that Coronation Street invited us to work with them on Aidan’s storyline. Suicide is clearly a very sensitive topic and one that presents some distinct challenges for producers of soaps. This is why Samaritans publishes media guidance and works with programme makers.
"Soaps can play an incredibly powerful role in increasing people’s awareness and understanding of difficult issues. Viewers will see the devastating impact of suicide and the effect that it has on families – it’s never the case that others would be better off without you.
"By illustrating the dangers of staying silent when it feels like life’s challenges are overwhelming, we hope others who are struggling will be encouraged to reach out for support. And, if viewers are worried about someone else, we hope it will inspire them to be brave and open up a conversation.
"You won’t make things worse, but you could start that person on the road to recovery."
Simon Gunning, CEO of CALM
"Coronation Street is doing vital work in highlighting such an important issue with this storyline. Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK, where three in every four suicides are male. The reasons for this are many and complex, but at CALM we focus on the cultural and societal aspects, including the pressures men face and how societal expectations can limit help seeking when life gets tough.
"Working with Coronation Street has allowed us to engage a huge audience in the devastating effect of suicide, while providing a platform to highlight the help that is available for those in need of support."