Published Thursday, 20 December 2012
The 22-year-old blonde, who starred in hit soap Coronation Street for 12 years, sparked a barrage of abuse on Twitter after posting an image of herself pointing a pistol at her head - just days after the Connecticut school massacre.
As the scandal threatened to engulf the actress, she made an emotional appearance on ITV's Daybreak and came close to tears as she insisted the incident was a "careless" mistake and she was "mortified" by the outraged public's response.
"It was just a completely out of context tweet ... I tweeted this picture completely carelessly ... It was the stupidest thing I've ever done in my life," Helen said.
"I started getting all these reactions of like: 'How insensitive, how could you do this?', and I just felt sick. I just deleted it straight away ...
"And then on Wednesday morning I woke up to see that (media coverage) and I was just absolutely, unbelievably shattered - just mortified by it."
The actress insisted she posted the photo as a humorous comment about suffering a hangover, adding: "I absolutely hated myself for it. I am incredibly sorry and I couldn't be more sorry.
"And I tweeted it completely out of context - it was just about a hangover ... I think what I did was ridiculously stupid ... I would never, ever want to hurt anyone."
She added: "I'm just incredibly sorry ... I am absolutely devastated by it and I'm very, very sorry - especially if it's hurt any of the families."
Helen tweeted the photo on Monday - just hours after the first victims of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut were laid to rest.
Gunman Adam Lanza slaughtered 20 young children and six adults at a school in the town on Friday before killing himself.