THE Coronation Street storyline about the suicide of popular character Aidan Connor played by Shayne Ward has shocked millions of viewers.

The sensitive handling of the subject by the famous Northern soap has impressed but, at the same time, the theme has resonated with many people who have lost loved ones to suicide.

For Andrea Daubney, the programme was particularly hard to watch. In 2007, she found her beloved brother Paul dead at his Bolton home after his problems had become too great to bear.

“I really didn’t want to watch this episode but I found I did in the end,” she stated. “Unfortunately, it took me straight back to that time and Paul – even what Jonny (Aidan’s father) said when he found the body was just what my Mum said. It was very affecting.”

Paul was 48 when he killed himself. He had served in the Falklands and later suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He had flashbacks and nightmares and developed a problem with alcohol. He was in debt when he died and Andrea felt that might have been the final trigger.

“I could tell that he was very troubled,” she said. “He had stopped looking after himself and his home. I’d already broken into his home four times before because I was very worried about him.”

Because Andrea herself had suffered suicidal thoughts over debt a couple of years previously, she had a greater understanding of Paul’s feelings. “I reached the point where I could not even talk to anyone about it,” she said. “I just wanted the pain to stop and I think Paul must have felt the same way.”

Sadly, within a year, Andrea’s father also died. “He never got over Paul’s death – he died of a broken heart.”

She understands the array of feelings suffered by Aidan’s family and friends in the TV storyline – shock, anger, guilt. “They were all there when Paul died,” she added.

Andrea, a businesswoman and mother of three sons, found her way through by starting a charity in Paul’s name to raise money for treatment for ex-servicemen and women suffering from PTSD and their families.

Her experiences have made her realise the value of “just talking to someone, just being near someone” and she is always willing to listen to anyone with worries.

“Just watching for those clues can help,” she added, “like when someone who normally looks after their appearance and their home suddenly starts not to care.”

In just one year in the UK and Republic of Ireland there were 6,639 suicides and it is the biggest killer of men under 50. Sadly, it is still a taboo subject and that stigma promotes a silence that is killing hundreds each year.

Samaritans – which supported the Coronation Street storyline – praised the programme for tackling the topic and for “handling it so responsibly.”

As well as showing the devastation caused to families bereaved by suicide “it also illustrates that sometimes there are no visible signs that someone is struggling and the importance of talking if things get too much, and looking out for each other,” stated a Samaritans’ spokesperson.

They advise people to show they care about another person by really listening to them and not talking about themselves at all. Also, having patience and not letting the person feel rushed but that this is a safe environment to talk about their feelings. And using open questions like “How are you feeling today?” to encourage them to talk.

• Anyone needing help can ring Samaritans helpline on 116-123 (www.samaritans.org). Mind on 0300 123 3393, Papyrus (prevention of young suicide) 0800 068 41 41.

Caption 1: Aidan Connor (Shayne Ward) hides his feelings from his family and friends until it all becomes too much to bear

Caption 2: Paul Daubney and his sister Andrea in happier times