Why did Coronation Street’s storyline about Aidan’s suicide get such a reaction this week?
It’s not as if we don’t all know that young men are more likely to end their lives than women. In fact, “in men, suicide is more common in people who are 15-44 years of age, and particularly in men who are 15-24 years old. In women, suicide is more common between the ages of 45 and 74. Younger women between the ages of 15 and 24 are thought to have a low risk of suicide.” (HSE)
It’s not as if we don’t KNOW that suicide has been a huge issue for many many years.
It’s not as if we don’t know that depression can affect anyone.
So why was the interweb in uproar at the episodes?
On Twitter, there was a general consensus that the writers of Corrie were being “irresponsible” as they “Should have shown him asking for help.” Another asked, “Wouldn’t it be better if he got the help he needed and got better?”
These are only two of the comments that were directed at Corrie bosses. And while yes, these would certainly have had a more palatable result of saving Aidan and making us all blub a little less into our cuppas, they wouldn’t have been quite as effective in raising the biggest taboo surrounding mental health.
And that is, that the signs are NOT always obvious; that the sufferers are NOT always open about it and that there is NO way of predicting it.
Aidan has it all. He has a business, a family who loves him, rugged good looks and respect from his friends and neighbours. And yet, viewers saw him sitting in his local, among his family and closest friends, having just rekindled a possible relationship with the love of his life, staring into the distance in what I can only describe as one of the most breath-taking and harrowing moments I have ever watched on a soap.
He is lost, lonely, drowning in a sea of people.
And not one person noticed.
Bravo to Corrie. Hats off to the writers for reminding us that we NEVER know what someone else is going through; for frightening us to consider for a second that maybe the strong men in our lives are struggling; for highlighting that suicide doesn’t come with symptoms. And congratulations to Shayne Ward for playing the part to perfection.
I got chills watching Monday night’s episode. Tonight’s broke my heart.
We’ve all been affected by it. For those of us left behind, the biggest questions are often “How did I not know?, “What did I not see?” “Why could I not have stopped it?” And what Coronation Street has done for us this week, is to remind us that sometimes, there is NO WAY we COULD know; no way we could see and no way we could have stopped it.
Suicide is a plague. And only by continuing to keep the conversations alive can we help to challenge it. We MUST talk about the things so long kept taboo. We MUST accept depression and all mental health issues as an active part of our society. We MUST teach our young people, that suicide does not have a face. It can lurk in the minds of anyone. And we must continue to call it out. To make conversations about the darkness normal. To make it real.
Coronation Street has restarted an important conversation. This weekend, all over the world, Pieta House are working towards keeping the conversation alive. On Saturday morning, I will join my family and friends and my community for Darkness into Light.
We shall walk into the light to raise money for the amazing work that they do. I shall remember my own losses, cry for the losses of those I didn’t know, nod at those whose grief never leaves and stand in solidarity with everyone who is fighting to keep the conversation alive.
Only by keeping the conversation alive, can we help to keep the light on for those in the Darkness.