Suicide Is Not Painless, Part Two: Y&R’s Chelsea Tries to Kill Herself

Last Friday on Young and the Restless, Chelsea Lawson (Melissa Claire Egan, in an excellent performance) heard voices in her head (a la a bad 50’s movie), went onto the balcony her apartment and looked down at the traffic way below on the street—contemplating committing suicide.  Thankfully Billy Abbott (Jason Thompson) arrived in time and talked her out of it.

Marlena feels very strongly that soap operas should never portray suicide.  First, I come from a family that has been touched by it.  And second, I’ve experienced chronic depression (it is actually genetic) myself. When I was in college, a bad romance caused me to go home to my parents’ house, shut myself in my room for six months—and watched soap operas.

Soaps are good for depressed people because they provide characters to love like members of our own families. That sense of company and continuity does a lot to help ease the pain of feeling hopeless. The last thing any soap should do is portray killing oneself as a solution for such horribly painful feelings.

This is not the first time I have come out about this so strongly.  In 2009 on One Life to Live, rapist Todd Manning (Roger Howarth, now Austin on General Hospital) grappled with Bo over a gun — and then jumped into the Llantano River.  In the original “Suicide is Not Painless” column on this site (, I argued against a soap portraying this and cited several other past examples.  For instance, early in OLTL’s run Lana (played by Jackie Zeman, now Bobbie on GH) actually succeeded in killing herself because she couldn’t gain the love of a heel named Brad.   Much later, drama queen Reva Shayne (Kim Zimmer) on Guiding Light tried suicide over the love of lover/husband Josh.  Other soaps have occasionally courted and tried this untouchable subject, too.

But what particularly irritates me about Y&R’s attempt last weak attempt is that CBS actually aired a warning before the episode in which Chelsea ruminated about jumping off a building. Huh?  This feeble gesture isn’t likely to discourage anyone from watching, and really doesn’t let the network off the hook. In decades of writing about soaps.  I’ve never heard of anything so presumptuous and irresponsible. Also do I have to say this again?   Are soaps so desperate for a quick ratings punch that they have to try something as dangerous and suggestive?

On the plus side, before the episode, CBS did however offer a phone number for an organization that helps people who feel suicidal.

I concur. There is help available to any viewer who feels similarly depressed. A good place to start is a national suicide hotline, 1-800-273-8255. Hang in there.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Spot on as always. A suicide did happen on Somerset summer 73 when the flawed matriarch Laura realized her daughter’s rape came after the mother lying about that young women’s entire backstory. FYI=Henry Slesar was head writer then

    • Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a Connie Passalacqua Hayman says:

      Thanks for the info on “Somerset”–the mostly excellent spin-off to “Another World.”

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