Soaps and Serials : Suicide, mental illness, Down Syndrome?

Suicide, mental illness, Down Syndrome?

I know a few years ago Benjamin Hendrickson from ATWT committed suicide. I believe his character Hal Munson was killed off as a line-of-duty death, not as a suicide (which makes sense).

However, I'm just wondering if soaps have ever tackled certain storylines like suicide? I mean, so many characters die and then come back to life, especially the baddies. But has any soap ever had a character reach a breaking point and commit suicide? Have there been any storylines that dealt respectfully with mental illness (not just a "crazy" character who has been manipulated by someone else or "possessed" like Marlena on DOOL). I mean, like a diagnosis of schizophrenia, bipolar, PTSD, or something else and shown the character getting some therapy.

Also, have there ever been storylines where a character's child was born with Down syndrome? (I know...completely unrelated to mental illness. Just figured I'd ask all in one post.)


Re: Suicide, mental illness, Down Syndrome?

In Eastenders and Emmerdale they have had characters whose children have down syndrome

Re: Suicide, mental illness, Down Syndrome?

All My Children comes to mind. Kelly, who married Linc Tyler, Phoebe's son, attemped an overdose of pills in the bathtub and Linc saved her. She had a twin sister (played by the same actress who returned as Kelly) who died, but I can't recall the circumstances.

Palmer Courtland did shoot himself when he was distraught over losing his daughter, Nina, to Cliff Warner.

On Days of Our Lives, Vivian Alamaine was having a chemical imbalance 'to herbs' when she buried Carly alive. She was institutionalized where she met Laura Horton who had been put away for many years.

Anne Tyler, Linc's sister again on All My children, had a breakdown after the death of her daughter and was institutionalized as well.

Heather Webber had a bad reaction to a mickey and was put away in a mental institution on General Hospital.

Donna Love had a breakdown on Another World.

None of these were from chemical or medical difficulties, they all seemed to be from a death of a child or being manipulated by Dad or something.

I think Jane Elliot played a split personality on Guiding Light.

If you also want to ponder siblings impersonating one another, both One Life To Live had Maggie Ashley posing as her sister Pat Ashley, while All My children had Janet impersonating her sister Natalie.

Suicide is interesting. If anyone ever tried it, it was from an overdose. I never recall anyone shooting themselves.

Reva Shayne on Guiding Light tried to jump off a bridge into freezing water and was rescued by Caine.

Re: Suicide, mental illness, Down Syndrome?

I think I remember reading in a book about the daytime soaps written in the 1970s that the shows were generally very loath to show a suicide or suicide attempt for fear that it might lead some depressed viewers to commit suicide. And maybe a sponsor/producer like Proctor & Gamble didn't want to show suicides?

I do remember Reva's suicide attempt on Guiding Light--as noted above, she jumped off a bridge into an icy river, but was rescued. Years later, in a fit of post-partum depression, she drove a car off a causeway in Florida to her (evident) death--although she showed up alive years later.

I think Guiding Light might have also a suicide attempt or suicide in the late 1980s or early 1990s; I forget the character's name, but she was an alcoholic that Johnny Bauer fell in love with. I remember Chelsea Reardon singing "Softly and Tenderly, Jesus Is Calling" at that character's funeral. (It might have been an unintentional drug overdose?)

As to Down's Syndrome--I can't remember any cases on daytime TV. On primetime, Dallas featured Ray and Donna Krebs. Donna was pregnant, and I forget--she either had an amniocentesis and found out the baby had Down's, and the show featured Ray and Donna getting ready for that: meeting children with Down's, etc. I can't remember if she actually gave birth.

That was the season of Dallas when Bobby Ewing died, and that ended with shocker of it all being Pam's dream. When the next season began, the whole previous season had been made null and void as a dream. I think Donna had a quick and easy miscarriage, so she lost the baby, and they didn't redo the whole Down's storyline.

Re: Suicide, mental illness, Down Syndrome?

I believe in the 70's, there was a storyline about Down's Syndrome on All My Children. It had to do with Joe and Ruth Martin. Don't recall the whole storyline though.

Re: Suicide, mental illness, Down Syndrome?

I believe in the 70's, there was a storyline about Down's Syndrome on All My Children. It had to do with Joe and Ruth Martin. Don't recall the whole storyline though.

Re: Suicide, mental illness, Down Syndrome?

Zoe Tate in Emmerdale had schizophrenia
A suicide was shown Sons And Daughters
The original actor who played Mark Fowler in Eastenders killed himself due to the pressure of fame too young.

Re: Suicide, mental illness, Down Syndrome?

On Guiding Light in the mid-90s the characters Holly and Fletcher had a Down Syndrome daughter they named Meg. Early on they featured storylines with the child, the help sought by her parents, etc., but a change in writers sadly put the plot off the canvas.

On General Hospital they have dealt with Sonny Corinthos' bipolar diagnosis. Currently, it is feared that his son Morgan may be a sufferer and there are efforts to get him into therapy.

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