Packed To The Rafters: articles

Depression warning for Packed to the Rafters fans

A TOP psychologist has warned that fans who watched last night's Packed to the Rafters episode could experience depression.

The show featured the funeral of beloved character Mel Rafter, played by Zoe Ventoura, who was killed in a car smash while using her mobile phone.

More than two million fans watched the two shows.

"The death of a favourite character could cause a genuine sadness, which requires grieving," psychologist Jan Hall warned.

"Viewers who are attached to the storyline could identify as if the characters are real people."

Actor Hugh Sheridan - who played Mel's TV husband Ben Rafter - said some fans were shattered.

"Just after the accident, a whole lot of furious tweets came through (to me) saying: 'That was awful, how could they do that?' "

Dr Hall said viewers affected by the episode needed to adopt strategies to overcome their grief.

"Tell yourself it's only a TV show, exercise to release the 'happy drugs' in your body, or watch a soppy DVD that makes you have a good cry," she said.

"Viewers could also write a farewell letter to the character and thank them for the great times they had with them."

Dr Hall believes that, if handled sensitively, the death of a fictional TV character can sometimes have a positive therapeutic effect on viewers.

"The release of tears of sadness can actually help someone resolve other losses or grief in the real world," she said.

Sheridan said filming the funeral episode was hard.

"This is the worst thing that could have happened to Ben. I was pretty low. I found it extremely exhausting.

"(Friends) were wondering why I was moping around and not being my usual chirpy self when I got home from work."

Sheridan hopes Mel's death will make viewers realise the dangerous consequences of using mobile phones while driving.

He also hopes viewers who experience sadness can put it into perspective.

By Colin Vickery
November 10, 2010
Herald Sun