POPULAR soap opera 7de Laan and SABC2 have been admonished for screening two episodes during prime-time viewing in which a character contemplated suicide.

The Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA found the parties guilty of contravening the Broadcasting Code of Conduct after several complaints from viewers about an episode screened on April 27 and 28. They portrayed one of the characters drinking heavily over several episodes and contemplating suicide in two episodes after his wife had left him. The character could be seen trashing the shop he owned and then toying with a gun.

The commission ruled that even though a 13V advisory and a suicide helpline number was screened, it would have little or no effect. It found the scenario was likely to be disturbing and harmful to young viewers as children were unable to process the content.

A viewer complained: “The violence and suicide consideration was uncalled for (on) a family show”, while another said he had lost a son to suicide and thought the producer was insensitive. 7de Laan producer Colin Howard said: “We respect the findings, and will be more aware (when airing) sensitive scenes.” – Lauren Isaacs