Emmerdale is set to tackle a hugely sensitive new storyline as beloved character Paddy Kirk considers taking his own life when his depression deepens.
Paddy, played by Dominic Brunt, has been struggling with his mental health in the ITV1 soap since finding out wife Chas (Lucy Pargeter) was cheating on him with Al Chapman (Michael Wildman) and has been struggling to keep living alongside his now ex above the Woolpack pub.
Read more: This week's Emmerdale spoilers
The pair are trying to co-parent young daughter Eve and are also dealing with grief over the loss of their daughter Grace.
Paddy has also been making mistakes at work and is unable to reach out to his friends, and in tonight's episode viewers will see Paddy suddenly leave the village without telling anyone.
Although he is found in a nearby guest house, isolated Paddy will return to the village in March when he will try to say some veiled goodbyes before leaving with the intention of ending his own life.
Brunt, who plays Paddy, said: "It’s a huge honour and a great responsibility to be portraying this storyline. It’s an inherent problem in today’s society that most men don’t talk enough about their problems. We bottle them up, we don’t want to bother anyone, we become embarrassed, we feel we should be strong and not show weakness.
"If this story can shine a light on the issue or make even a small change to someone’s outlook or viewpoint, then it will have been worth it. It’s also a privilege to be working alongside The Samaritans and Andy’s Man Club in highlighting this issue."
Emmerdale producer Laura Shaw, who has developed the storyline with charities Samaritans and Andy's Man Club, said: "As soon as we started discussing this story we knew that it was vital for us to get it right and that we needed to open up the conversation about male depression and suicide.
"Paddy is usually very happy-go-lucky in life, always joking and having a laugh, but what we see is that recent events have really taken their toll. Despite him being popular and having lots of friends and family around him, Paddy starts to feel increasingly lonely, isolated and overwhelmed by his feelings and this leads to him having some very dark thoughts.
"We've worked really closely with Samaritans and Andy's Man Club every step of the way through this story and their incredible support and insight has helped us to shape Paddy's journey into a true reflection of what thousands of men sadly go through every year."
Samaritans’ Lorna Fraser added: "Paddy’s story creates an opportunity to show others, particularly middle-aged men, however difficult times can become, it's always possible to get help and get through, and ultimately recover. Depression and suicide are extremely serious topics, so we’re pleased to have seen the producers work so hard to ensure they got this story right in its telling.
"We encourage anyone touched by this story to reach out to Samaritans, our amazing volunteers are always here to listen, day and night."
For confidential emotional support contact The Samaritans at any time by calling 116 123 or emailing email@example.com