Leeds based playwright compelled to tackle issue of male suicide with latest production after reading one family's plight

An award-winning playwright based in Leeds is tackling another "taboo" subject with his latest production that is set to be performed later this month.

Friday, 17th September 2021, 4:45 am

Brian Daniels was both so moved, and inspired, upon hearing a news report about the suicide of a 31-year-old father from Yorkshire and the backdrop to his battle with mental health and depression, he felt compelled to write "Is the Patient Breathing?" in the hope that it might help other people.

Ross McCarthy from Sheffield took his life in February following ten years of struggling with severe depression and then being put on a six month long waiting list for therapy. He left behind fiancee Charlotte, his four-year-old son Charlie and his parents, sister and brother.

It is with his father, former BBC Look North and Sky News presenter Mike McCarthy and the rest of the family's blessing that the play is being staged as in a long, last letter to his family, Ross asked them to campaign for better mental health help and services.

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Leeds based writer, Brian Daniels.

‘Is the Patient Breathing’ will be performed by a team of professional actors on September 21 at 3pm and 6pm at the White Building, Fitzalan Square, Sheffield at the invitation of LAB4LIVING, Sheffield Hallam University.

Mr Daniels has previously written plays covering important health and social issues including dementia, palliative care and historical child abuse which have been widely performed for organisations including NHS Trusts, Hospitals, Hospices and Universities.

He said that drama is an impactful way to create an environment of discussion and debate.

“The audience identify with the characters and their situation and in the discussions which always follow my plays they share, sometimes for the first time, their own feelings about the issues raised."

An expert panel can often then signpost them to appropriate help agencies.

Mr McCarthy added: "My family and I know that our lives will never be the same again. Losing Ross is unbearably painful but we are heartened beyond words to think that something so positive can come from our tragedy and the tragedy of thousands of others.

"I believe that this play can help shine a light on something that is largely overlooked. We are so grateful to Brian Daniels for his care and humanity in researching our story and for being bold enough to present a play based on a subject which has remained taboo for far too long."