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I have always thought that it was unfortunate that soaps only ever explored mental health issues in characters in the context of cartoony psychopaths.

A case in point was that as far as I can tell, very few if almost any character in soap has ever been written to commit suicide, which seems like a missed opportunity because it would make for a compelling story to see the path of someone getting to a point where they don't want to live anymore and the impact on surviving characters. I imagine they don't write it lest it be triggering for some in the audience but it doesn't stop them for other delicate stories.
Of the top of my head, the only suicide in recent times I am familiar with is B&B's Storm - and while I enjoyed that story, it was not necessarily a story about mental health.
Which other suicide stories am I forgetting if any?

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Oh Right. That's a good call. So I guess that would make George Rawlins also a "suicide" (albeit by hired hands)

But it tracks with my first point which is mental health issues in soaps are generally presented in the frame of a cartoony psychopath and not for their own - serious - sake.

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I can think of several characters that have attempted suicide, but except for Storm I can't think of any one that actually did it.

 

AW: Iris, Sharlene

OLTL: Shane

Passions: Theresa

 

And on DAYS, there was Andre who "committed suicide" twice in order to frame someone for his murder, but each time he turned up alive

Edited by AbcNbc247
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What about someone on life support begging another to pull the plug? I'm thinking GL's Richard Winslow. Reva did the deed because he was physically unable and he begged her to do it. Come to think of it, Dolly/Clone-Reva killed herself by taking the aging serum.

Ken George Jones on RH. He had a terminal disease and he was bedridden in his final days. He managed to get pills brought to his room to end his life, they were thrown away but, after people believing Jillian had mercy-killed him, it turned out he had dragged himself out of bed and retrieved the pills. Granted, this was played out as a mystery/possible mercy-killing before it was revealed as suicide.

Also, would you consider a terminal AIDS-patient stopping treatment as committing suicide? I am thinking of Stone Cates on GH.

 

Edited by applcin
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Yes, assisted suicide is adjacent obviously but it is different from mental health related suicidal iteration. And even Storm's suicide doesn't quite fit the latter since there was a plot reason for him to want to kill himself (so that Katie would get his heart).

So it is striking that straight-up suicide is undercovered in soaps despite its dramatic potential. I suspect it is out of concern for not "inspiring" viewers who may struggle in real-life but boy how powerful a well-told story could be.
To be fair, suicides are pretty rare in primetime as well. I thought of this thread because of Melrose Place's Craig and I was thinking that I didn't know of many other examples.

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I thought of a recent example. JJ on DAYS was close to committing suicide after he accidentally shot Theo. Casey Moss submitted these scenes in his Emmy reel, and they were in fact quite powerful, even if the storyline itself had a lot of problems.

 

 

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Laura had an incident on GH after Lucky died in the fire.  She was in total grief and in a catatonic state and was almost hit by a train.  If I remember she had to be pushed away, and it did seem like she was suicidal, and the characters reacted that way.  Especially Stefan.

 

That story was really hard to watch, and Genie really grieved like Laura would have.  It was total.

Edited by titan1978
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Matt & Tricia pulling a Thelma & Louise and driving their Jeep off a cliff was shocking enough I had almost the story had ended there as that was VERY stark already for a soap.

 

Reva on GL jumped off a bridge but it did lead to a nice revitalization in her life. 


I believe they blamed her mental issues in the 1990 story as a bad case of PTSD from her pregnancy with Shayne.

Edited by soapfan770
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OLTL's Naomi Vernon, mother of Brad and Samantha, died of an accidental overdose when she feared loosing her husband Dr. Will.

 

I agree with your basic premise that suicide has become verboten territory for soaps, and that does not reflect the actual unfortunate mental health statistics in our culture.  The UK soaps have won accolades in recent years for their portrayal of suicide, including being careful not to mention the planning nor the method of suicide (which is key when trying not to trigger those with ideation). Coronation Street had an intriguing story that showed the effect of suicide not just on the immediate family but those in the town.  An older female character was given this beautiful speech about how we live in a community, but you don't always know what is happening behind closed doors, which is the essence of what soaps were made of. 

 

US soaps have a number of mental health professional characters, so having them deal with the suicide of a client would be a novel plot line.  For some reason, long lost relatives, brain chips, and evil twins have played out several times on soaps, without any mention of the use of therapy to resolve these concerns.  Depression and Drug dependency are usually solved on soaps by the love of a good man/woman/baby, and those diagnosed with the disorder rarely suffer from ongoing emotional, motivational, or financial issues.  Whereas actual issues that effect the lives of fans go unnoticed.  Daytime viewers who are watching because they are out of work, or coping with young children, are being done a disservice by not providing stories that could be both relatable and educational. 

Edited by j swift
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Degrassi TNG (after it lost the TNG label, I believe) had Cam Saunders kill himself later in its run, maybe season 11 or 12, but the character seemed to be created with the plan to have his story end with suicide, and they did not spend a whole lot of time developing and tracing his descent into depression.

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I do think soaps have generally stayed away from suicide as the result of an otherwise healthy person (i.e., life not ending soon or physicality not weakened or restricted) going through depression.

3 of my 4 examples were situations of ill/injured people choosing their way out. They were not an ongoing depression type of situation. They (Richard, Stone, KGJ) all came across as people who would have chosen to live had they not had these physical conditions develop and deteriorate. They spoke more about how a catastrophic physical situation that has no cure can affect a person's thinking.

 

Edited by applcin
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