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Cold Feet character Pete Gifford has been suffering from depression ITV

Cold Feet did its bit to help raise awareness of the issue on World Mental Health Day yesterday (10 October) by showing the apparent suicide of one of its most-loved characters.

Pete Gifford – played by John Thomson – has been a stalwart in the hit ITV series since it began in1997, but things have changed drastically for him over the years. During the last recession he was made redundant and he found himself working two jobs as a cab driver and a carer.

Throughout the new series, Pete's mental state has deteriorated considerably as one of the main storylines has centred around his depression. He is also surrounded by successful people, so when his good pal Adam returned after making it big in Singapore and finding a young bride, things took a turn for the worse.

And last night's episode appeared to be the final straw as while driving his taxi – after his daughter discovered that he wasn't her biological father – he had visions of his wife (Faye Ripley) and children popping up in the car around him, talking to him.

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Pete looks down at the dramatic drop ITV

Pete, feeling lower than ever, drove to a deserted location and headed to the edge of a rockface where he looked down at the frightening drop below. After being seen looking down, the shot later cut to his lifeless body seen lying at the foot of the cliff – triggering Cold Feet fans to despair at the loss of one of their favourite characters.

The scene intensified as the camera zoomed in on his body and revealed that his eyes were still open.

Cold Feet took a dark turn on last night's episode ITV

Fans let out a sigh of relief when it turned out to be another one of Pete's dark visions.

Pete was seen alive at the top of the cliff at the end of the episode, looking down at what he could have done – before his phone rang, bringing him back to reality. It was his wife Jenny asking him to come back home and he was later seen surrounded by his family.

Viewers flooded social media sharing site Twitter with messages about the episode, with many praising the show for drawing attention to the concerns of mental health. One viewer wrote: "Pete's storyline in #ColdFeet has been the most accurate creative portrayal of depression I've ever seen on tv" while another put: "The way #ColdFeet has handled Pete's depression storyline – particularly tonight – is SO good. @JohnnyThomson2 absolutely incredible. TEARS."

Actor Ceallach Spellman – who plays Matthew in the series – added: "An incredibly moving episode. Very poignant & appropriate with it being #WorldMentalHealthDay highlighting a significant issue #ColdFeet".

Cold Feet continues next Monday at 9pm.

The Samaritans provides a free support service for those who need to talk to someone in the UK and Republic of Ireland. It can be contacted via Samaritans.orgor by calling 116 123 (UK) or 116 123 (ROI), 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, please contact a free support service or call 0300 123 3393. Call charges apply.