Coronation Street has a long standing habit of many hard hitting issues and is set to highlight the issues of mental health and the impact of loneliness in older people when Audrey confides in her friends that she tried to take her own life.
Viewers saw Audrey receiving treatment in hospital last month, telling a doctor that she had accidentally taken too many tablets and this week (August 10th) she continues to insist that was the case to her own GP.
But in emotional scenes to be transmitted on August 15th Audrey confides in Roy, Rita, Claudia and Ken that the overdose was in fact a suicide attempt.
The group of friends have gathered for a belated birthday lunch at a local hotel and are stunned when Audrey tells them that she tried to make an attempt on her life three weeks ago, but a neighbour posting a leaflet spotted her and called an ambulance.
As the pals try to come to terms with the shock revelation they ask her what led to the suicide attempt, confessing their guilt at not spotting the signs that their friend was struggling.
Audrey admits that she had kept her feelings hidden and has not even told her family about what happened. As the group discusses the problems that growing older can bring she explains that she misses her late husband Alfie and that she had been feeling useless and depressed, turning to drink after suffering with her eyesight deteriorating.
Audrey says: “I just seemed to spiral downwards. I’d toss and turn all night, then finally drop off just when I should be up and at ’em. Seizing the day. Huh! Spend the afternoons on the sauvignon blanc, wondering exactly what I’m good for?”
Sue Nicholls explains: “Audrey is very sorry for what she has done and certainly her first reaction was to keep it from her family. Family do, and will always, mean so much to her despite the sniping now and again.
“She also enjoys and is grateful for being independent and living happily in her own home although the one big regret that has contributed to this latest situation is a wish that dear Alfie was still alive and there with her so that they could have grown old and equally doddery together. Her family, busy with their own lives, see her down and upset moments as her not being able to cope with the real world and she feels they have started treating her a bit like a child and she started to feel depressed. She is mostly very healthy and together but her depression seemed to take over totally.
“Once she was able to speak with her friends, and they then opened up about their struggles, she realised how much they had helped her immensely regarding her problems. Dr Gaddas prescribed her antidepressants but yet again her stubbornness kicks in and she doesn’t take them. Luckily talking to her long standing friends they persuade her to take the doctor’s advice and she thanks them sincerely for making life seem lighter in every way.
“Now that is the message that I want people to take away from this storyline, the importance of being able to talk to people you trust about how you feel. Sometimes the young generation might think that anyone over 70 isn’t capable of making decisions which in turn can make older people lose their sense of purpose and begin to feel quite useless.
“I am lucky enough to work with people of every age. I have no idea how old many of them are nor do I need to know. I enjoy speaking with them and taking on board what they say about issues we discuss irrespective of what age we all are. So I’d like to say ‘Listen Audrey, I’m still learning about life at 79 and I truly hope to continue’.
“I do hope this storyline helps older people reach out and start talking about how they feel and for younger people to be aware of how much the older generation still has to offer.”
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “This heart-breaking storyline carries an important message for all those Coronation Street viewers who are facing similar
struggles to Audrey, and indeed for their families and friends too. Audrey may be a fictional character, but sadly we know that her situation is reflected in the real life difficulties a fair few people go through as they get older.
“Ageing can certainly bring its challenges, including a greater likelihood of experiencing loneliness and ill health. These and other adversities can then damage older people’s resilience, wellbeing and morale. Loneliness is a serious problem for many, with loved ones passing away, mobility and health issues preventing them from getting out and about as much as they would like, not to mention the rapid increase in the cost of living. All these things make it hard for millions of older people to go out and enjoy the company of others, undermining their mental health.
“We’d encourage everybody who can to reach out to the older people in their lives, whether that’s by volunteering through Age UK or just popping in to their older relatives, friends and
neighbours for a brew, calling up for a chat, helping with any errands and just generally being there for them. Age UK is here too with our free and confidential Advice Line, open 365 days a year, which provides friendly and expert guidance on the issues affecting older people including managing finances, health conditions and loneliness. We also have our Telephone Friendship Service, described as a lifeline by many, which provides older people who are feeling lonely with a regular chat over the phone with one of our trained volunteers.
“Anyone who needs support, is worried about an older relative or friend, or wants to find out more about Age UK’s services can get in touch by calling Age UK Advice free of charge on 0800 169 6565 (8am-7pm), or they can visit www.ageuk.org.uk. Any older person looking for a cheerful chat can call our subsidiary charity, The Silver Line free, day or night, on 0800n 4 70 80 90.
“Since the pandemic Age UK has been inundated with requests for our Telephone Friendship Service and we need volunteers now more than ever before. Volunteering for the service is a safe and easy way to gain a new friend while at the same time making a huge a difference to an older person’s life. To register, visit: https://friendship.ageuk.org.uk/.”
Coronation Street airs hour-long episodes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8pm on ITV.