Note: The following article contains discussion of themes including suicide that some readers may find upsetting.
Hollyoaks spoilers follow.
Hollyoaks star Ashley Taylor Dawson has opened up about what's in store for his character Darren Osborne in the wake of his friend Kyle Kelly's suicide.
Kyle's death led to Darren's friends and family learning about Darren's own struggles with depression, and now Ashley has said that the tragic event will mark a turning point in Darren's storyline.
"The fallout is going to be focused on what happens next with Darren," Taylor Dawson told Digital Spy exclusively.
"He is only just really admitting to himself that he is depressed. He's said it a few times and he was told he was by Kyle but he hasn't actually challenged it or dealt with it. He's not been to see anyone properly either.
"That is the journey we'll see now," he continued. "How does someone bounce back from this? Especially with all the feelings now of guilt and blame he's got over Kyle. That is why Hollyoaks told the story the way they did. They didn't want to Kyle's suicide to be the end of it.
"The reason we have two characters going through it is to show every angle and avenue. That is going to be what is interesting now, to see how Darren bounces back and if he can. It's basically now going to be about how he deals with it all."
In next week's scenes, viewers will see Darren begin to seek help for his depression with the support of his partner Mandy (Sarah Jayne Dunn) and friend Luke (Gary Lucy) after his loved ones encourage him to speak to a doctor.
We'll also begin to see Darren's friends keeping a much closer eye on Darren from now on, as well as exploring all of their conflicting emotions and responses.
"Absolutely," Ashley replied when we asked if Nancy (Jessica Fox) and Luke will be keeping a closer eye on Darren.
"I think we are all guilty of it and Luke's view is actually a very popular one. I am from an all-boys' school background where the view was: 'Man up, get on with it.' However, when someone is crying out for help and we can't recognise these feelings and emotions, that could send them the other way.
"You can't blame Luke for what he said as lots of other people would react the same way. However, the message we are trying to get across is that there doesn't have to be an answer, you don't have to know the cure or necessarily know what to say. By listening, you are giving someone the space to talk and open up."
He continued: "One thing I have learned through this, especially with men as they do find it hard to open up, is that when you give them a space to talk, they often fill that space.
"That is what the story is trying to say: just listen. That alone will help someone who is struggling find some sort of comfort and maybe send them on a journey to recovery or even just a happier place.
"Luke will feel a big guilt over what he said and Nancy won't be able to not realise what Darren is going through now. When she comes to terms with what's happened, she is going to be there for Darren and she really pushes him to seek help. She's strong enough to do that."
While Darren's storyline continues, the soap has bid farewell to Kyle Kelly actor Adam Rickitt and Ashley revealed he was sad to see his co-star leave.
"It's always the way when you lose someone in the cast as we live in each other's pockets, you learn a lot about each other and get very close," he added.
"Adam is a very talented young man and I wish him all the best. He's done a great job. We've been doing the same storyline but with a different slant on it basically."
Hollyoaks airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 6.30pm on Channel 4, with first-look episodes airing on E4 at 7pm. Wednesdays through Fridays on E4 airs classic episodes called Hollyoaks Favourites.
We would encourage anyone who identifies with the topics raised in this article to reach out. Organisations who can offer support include Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org) or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to visit mentalhealth.gov or the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
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