Coronation Street actor Shayne Ward has said he believes his character’s suicide will have a huge impact.
The ITV soap will address the issue when Ward’s character Aidan Connor takes his own life in an episode that will be broadcast next week.
Ward said Coronation Street was sending a message that people, especially young men, should not be afraid to speak about their problems.
He said: “When I was approached by the writers and producer with this storyline, I knew straightaway just how impactful it is going to be on the public.”
He went on: “I was heartbroken initially when I found out I was leaving because I love being in Coronation Street.
“But this is bigger than anything that I will ever do in my career.
“I think it will be one of the things that I will be most proud of doing, because of the message it sends out.”
In an hour-long special that will be screened next Wednesday, Aidan’s father Johnny will discover his son’s body in his flat after he fails to turn up to work at the Underworld factory.
As the news of his death spreads around Weatherfield, Aidan’s friends and family begin to question why they had not noticed any signs that he was struggling to cope with problems in his life.
Ward will appear as Aidan for the final time in next Monday’s episode. He surprises Eva (Catherine Tyldesley) by visiting her at the cottage she has been living in since giving birth to their baby Susie.
Aidan later returns to a family party at the Rovers Return, where he is clearly in a troubled state of mind. His final scene sees him alone and crying in his flat.
Ward and the show’s writers and production team worked closely with charities Samaritans and Calm to ensure the storyline was handled sensitively and realistically.
The former X Factor winner said he hoped that male viewers could identify with his character and seek help.
He said: “Aidan is an ‘everyman’ figure, 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 are feeling.”
Speaking alongside Ward at the screening was Coronation Street producer Kate Oates, who has revealed she will leave the show in June to move into drama series production.
Oates reiterated how important it was for the programme to cover the issue.
She said: “Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in their country.
“With 84 men taking their lives each week, we simply can’t afford to not talk about it.
“Through this story we want to to assure anyone who feels suicidal that there is always someone who wants to listen and support you.
“We want to tell people that however black they are feeling, there is always another way.”
Ward’s final appearance on Coronation Street will be broadcast next Monday on ITV. A special, hour-long episode will follow on Wednesday.