As Sean Slater makes his dramatic return to Walford, EastEnders has revealed they are working closely with Samaritans as the story continues to unfold.
After learning his mum, Jean, had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Sean made a surprise return to Walford at the end of Friday night’s (April 26) episode.
Monday night’s outing to the show (April 29) saw Sean determined to put right his previous wrongs – but not going about it in quite the right way.
He’d picked up Amy Mitchell from school, claiming her mum sent him, with no idea Roxy, Sean’s former wife was actually dead.
When Amy’s dad, Jack Branning, found out, he took Sean to Roxy’s grave and after a tense confrontation between the two, it soon became clear to viewers that Sean has been contemplating taking his own life.
Later this week, more will be revealed as we discover Sean has been struggling with a secret he’s been hiding for years.
As he opens up to his mum, and his sister, Stacey, the impact the secret has had on him is all too clear.
To ensure the storyline is portrayed as sensitively as possible, the show has worked closely with Samaritans.
Spokesperson for the charity, Lorna Fraser, 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 alright 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.”
Speaking about Sean’s comeback and the storyline, head of continuing drama, Kate Oates 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.”
Anyone can contact Samaritans FREE any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit. This number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch, where you can talk to one of their trained volunteers face to face.
EastEnders is on Monday and Friday at 8pm and Tuesday and Thursday at 7.30pm on BBC One.
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