EastEnders’ Sean Slater hinted he may take his own life in the latest episode of the BBC soap.
The character, played by Rob Kazinsky, recently returned to Albert Square after learning his mum Jean (Gillian Wright) had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
In dramatic scenes in Monday’s episode, he learns that ex-wife Roxy is dead and is devastated by the news.
Sitting alone at her grave, it becomes clear he has contemplated suicide.
“I’m sorry Rox,” he says, leaning against her tombstone.
“Sorry I wasn’t there to fix it, wasn’t there when you needed me… I’ll be with you soon.”
Later this week fans will learn that Sean has been struggling with a secret he has been hiding for years.
EastEnders bosses have been working with Samaritans on the storyline to ensure it is portrayed as sensitively as possible.
Lorna Fraser of Samaritans said: “Given the sensitivities with covering the topic of suicide, we were pleased that EastEnders worked with us on Sean’s storyline.
“It’s important that we raise awareness of the issues surrounding suicide and drama can play a powerful role in this.
“Carefully developed storylines can help to generate discussion and can prompt viewers, who may be suffering in silence, to speak out and seek help.
“Sean’s story particularly highlights the importance of talking about our feelings, when we’re struggling to cope. If you’re worried about a friend you think may be struggling, it’s all right to ask them if they’re OK, for some it can be a huge relief to know that someone’s spotted they may be going through a difficult time and they’re there to listen.”
Kate Oates, head of continuing drama at BBC Studios, said: “The return of Sean Slater gives us a unique opportunity to explore two different aspects of mental health: on the one hand, the results of a long-term and untreated depression, and on the other, a person who has had a lifetime of trying to understand the delicate balance of their own mental health – and is coming out winning.
“The story is beautifully and intelligently played by Robert Kazinsky and Gillian Wright, both of whom cared deeply about getting it right, prompting discussion and making a difference.”