WARNING: This post talks openly about suicide so please do not read if you are triggered at all by this topic.
Also, SPOILER ALERT: this talks about the plot of *that* Coronation Street episode so if you haven’t watched it yet, don’t read this just yet.
In the psych ward I’m in, there are three rooms where patients can access a television. One is in the main day area, one in the female quiet lounge and the third in the general quiet lounge. Last night, I was sat in the female quiet lounge talking to another patient when the night nurse walked in and told us that she was putting Coronation Street on in both of the quiet lounges and that it wouldn’t be on in the main day area. I looked a bit puzzled so the nurse told me that there was an assisted suicide story on that night.
Coronation Street (AKA ‘Corrie’) is a popular soap opera here in the UK. I don’t normally watch it, but I became intrigued by the story line after finding out about the assisted suicide plot. When 8:30 approached, a few more women piled into the female quiet lounge and the atmosphere was rather jovial. We started joking about having our tissues ready etc and there was a fair bit of talking going on while the programme was on.
Towards the end, a male patient came over to the window and shouted ‘Is she dead yet?!’ making us all laugh. Giggling, we told him she wasn’t and we opened the window so that he could see and hear the programme without having to come inside. Even right up to the point where the character Hayley took her overdose, the atmosphere was light-hearted. We started shouting at the television, saying things like “It’s not that easy to OD!” and talked about things that had happened when we had overdosed in the past.
The thing that struck me from the night was that the story line was about assisted suicide, not just suicide in general. In the psych ward, the only real talking point that was brought up was suicide. We were joking around saying “I wonder what was in that magical potion!” and “When I tried it, I just woke up five days later in the ICU!” We weren’t discussing the ethics of it, just our own attempts at ending our lives.
I wondered if it was a good idea for the nurses to let us watch Corrie last night. But seeing as how the programme got us talking about serious matters in a jokey way, maybe it was a good idea. Time to Change are always saying about how it’s Time to Talk about mental health matters, and Corrie certainly did that last night. And we had a good laugh, the six of us, so why not watch it?
I understand the nurses keeping us all safe so that’s why it wasn’t on in the main day area. The staff wanted to have a safe haven for those who would be triggered by the assisted suicide story but gave those who wanted to watch it an opportunity to. I’m glad I was able to watch it and be a part of the light-hearted environment of last night, and it also made me see once again how much suicide affects those who are left behind. In Corrie, the person left behind was Roy, Hayley’s husband. Seeing how distraught he was at Hayley’s death made me see just how much it would affect my family if I were to do the same.
So an episode of Corrie got me talking about suicide in a light hearted way, made me feel less alone in that I don’t really know anyone in person who has been suicidal and it reminded me ever moreso about those who would be left behind. I personally believe I did the right thing by watching it.
Oh and as for Roy and Hayley, the acting was 10/10. It really felt believeable.