A Bury charity has praised the writers of TV’s Coronation Street for a controversial storyline involving the suicide of one of the soap’s best-loved characters.

The Bury branch of Samaritans has come out in support of the story which saw Hayley Cropper, played by Julie Hesmondhalgh, take an overdose after giving up her struggle with incurable cancer.

The episode, which aired on Monday, January 20, attracted almost 10 million viewers, and Sam-aritans were consulted by bosses of the programme to ensure it was depicted properly.

There had been fears that the storyline could lead to a risk of copycat suicides. Donna Webb, a volunteer at the charity based locally in Knowsley Street, said: “We hope that by doing this storyline and raising awareness of the issues, it will maybe help people decide not to take their own life.

“We get a lot of calls from people who have these feelings of suicide and self-harm on a regular basis, issues you might shy away from, but helping people to talk about their feelings can benefit them. People can talk to us anonymously and know there is no comeback from it, they can talk about sensitive issues, and it is something we are trained to do.”

The charity was launched in Bury in 1981 to provide an outlet for people in need, and it now has 80 regular volunteers who give up at least four hours of their time a week.

They are trained to deal with delicate issues, not to give advice, but to listen and support.

Rachel Kirby-Rider, executive director of fundraising and communications at Samaritans, added: “Samaritans provides expert advice and guidance to news media and programme makers on how to safely cover this very sensitive subject.

“We were pleased that Coronation Street came to us for guidance on their storyline of character Hayley ending her life, as a result of her terminal illness. Our role was to help them to cover this as safely as possible, not to approve their decision to run the story at all.

Samaritans believes that shutting down coverage of suicide is unhelpful, as this could drive discussion underground and deter people from talking about their problems.”

An information session for people who want to become volunteers at the charity in Bury will take place on March 12 at 7.30pm.

For more information: call 0161 764 0055 or email samaritans100@aol.com