Emmerdale’s controversial assisted suicide storyline has caused outrage amongst viewers, and has been blasted by a spinal injuries charity.
The harrowing episode which showed paralysed Jackson Walsh being fed lethal drugs to help him die, provoked a backlash from viewers on Twitter and Facebook after it was aired two hours before the watershed.
One viewer commented: “You shouldn’t have done that at this time of the day. Kids are watching.”
Jackson was assisted in his suicide by his mother and same-sex partner.
Marc Silcock, the actor who plays Jackson in the ITV soap, revealed that a twist will result in the two characters regretting helping Jackson end his life.
Aspire, a charity which supports victims of spinal injuries, has warned that the story is likely to cause “a great deal of hurt”.
Aspire’s Director of Services, Alex Rankin, said: “The storyline has been negative, unrealistic and pretty inaccurate.
“I’ve watched it very closely and have been incredibly disappointed with how Emmerdale have portrayed Jackson’s situation.
“People with spinal injuries are not ill, they do not need to spend all their time in bed being spoon-fed soup.”
He commented: “Emmerdale had a great opportunity to be inspirational with this storyline, to show that people who suffer similar injuries to Jackson’s can, after much adjustment, go on to live a fulfilling life. What worries me is that it’s basically saying that life with a spinal injury is not worth living.
“I don’t think they’ve considered how those people in Jackson’s situation will feel when they watch it.”
In May a leading pro-life ethicist said soaps such as Emmerdale distort the truth about the demand for assisted suicide.
Dr Peter Saunders, Director of Care Not Killing, says that very few tetraplegic sufferers wish to die.
In 2008 it was revealed that popular TV programmes like Coronation Street and EastEnders are actively lobbied to push campaigning storylines.
Alison Sinclair, publicity manager for Coronation Street admitted: “We are often approached by charities or organisations with requests to incorporate their campaigns or issues into the show”.