Coronation Street favourite Aidan Connor is to take his own life in an emotional storyline to be shown next week.
The ITV soap will explore the impact of Aidan’s suicide on the rest of the Connor family when Johnny finds his son’s lifeless body at his Victoria Street flat. As Aidan’s nearest and dearest try to come to terms with their loss, they begin to question why they hadn’t spotted the warning signs that he had hit rock bottom.
“It isn’t always possible to spot when a person is struggling to cope with life,” said actor Shayne Ward today. “But everybody is going to be thinking, ‘were there any tell tale signs that Aidan was feeling suicidal?’ You can’t pin it down to one particular thing that’s happened to him over the years – he’s cheated, he’s lost people their jobs, he’s had a hard relationship with his dad and he’s always been quite troubled.”
Aidan has been seen privately wrestling with his emotions of late, with some fans speculating that he’d been hiding a mystery illness from his loved ones. Recent scenes have seen him grow tearful after donating a kidney to sister Carla and struggling with his responsibilities at work after being put in sole charge at the factory.
Speaking about why she’d decided to highlight the issue of male suicide, 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 not afford not to 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.”
Asked how he felt for it to be his character who takes his own life, Ward said: “Aidan is an ‘everyman’ figure, he’s 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.
“They should realise that suicide is not the only option – they can and should talk to someone rather than suffer in silence and let things get worse.”
In the run-up to his death, Aidan will be seen going to visit one-time love Eva (Catherine Tyldesley) at the cottage where she’s living after giving birth to baby Susie (who Aidan has now realised is his) before returning to a family party at the Rovers. Aidan’s final scene – to be shown on Monday 7 May – will see him back at his flat alone and in tears. Although no element of the suicide is shown on screen, dad Johnny will find Aidan’s body in an hour-long episode on Wednesday.
Talking about the experience of filming his exit scenes, Ward commented: “At the end of the day, I could have said no and that I couldn’t do the storyline. But I thought about it and talked it through and there was a greater pull to want to do the storyline.
“It was difficult playing those scenes and you can remain in that dark place after filming them. So it was important for me to get out of that mindset and shake it off at the end of the filming day. But hopefully, it’ll be so helpful to people and will be something that my daughter [Willow] will be proud of. For me, it was all about looking to the future with her at the forefront of my mind. She is my happy place.”
Ward, along with the writers and the Coronation Street production team, have worked with charities including Samaritans on the storyline, with CEO Ruth Sutherland commenting tonight:
“Soaps can play an incredibly powerful role in increasing people’s awareness and understanding of difficult issues And here, viewers will see the devastating impact of suicide and the effect it has on families – it’s never the case that others would be better off without you.”
Shocking statistics highlight that three times more people die by suicide than in road traffic accidents and that, in 2016, 76 per cent of all suicides in Great Britain were male (ONS, 2017). Commenting on the seeming inability of men in particular to give voice to their anxieties, Ward said:
“A lot of men think it’s a weakness to talk and it isn’t. It’s a pride thing, men bottle it up – but have pride in admitting how you’re feeing. I’ve sat there with my own thoughts and it doesn’t work. Talking about them is what helped me. But sadly Aidan doesn’t. He doesn’t want to burden anyone – sadly, he’s too proud to speak out.”
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