The wife of former AFL star Danny Frawley has revealed her husband had removed himself from treatment and medication for his depression in the months leading up to his sudden death.
- Anita Frawley said her husband was feeling “invincible” when he stopped taking medication eight months ago
- She urged anyone experiencing mental health issues to seek help from professionals even if they felt they had recovered
- She said her husband would have wanted her to be open with the public about the lead-up to his death
Frawley, a former St Kilda captain, Richmond coach and media personality, died in a single-car crash near Ballarat last week, one day after celebrating his 56th birthday.
His death sparked an outpouring of grief from across the football community, with his colleagues remembering his relentless sense of humour and “nose for mischief”.
In a statement released via the AFL, Anita Frawley said her husband would have wanted her to “be open with the public of the events leading up to this heartbreak”.
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Ms Frawley said her husband, who had lived with depression for several years, had felt “invincible” about eight months ago when he decided to stop taking his prescribed medication.
She said while the circumstances of the single-car crashed that killed Frawley would remain uncertain until police investigations were complete, “it was true that Danny’s mental health had deteriorated in recent weeks”.
“The reason I am making this public is that I want this to be a reminder to all those grappling with mental health conditions and to those whom have made progress with their wellbeing that you should always seek help from professionals when considering making decisions surrounding your mental health, even when you feel as though you have fully recovered,” she said.
Anita Frawley’s statement in full
On Monday, the love of my life was tragically taken from my girls and I.
Many have speculated on the cause and lead up to this tragedy. Danny, as a champion of mental health would want me to continue his legacy and be open with the public of the events leading up to this heartbreak.
While the circumstances of the event are unconfirmed and will remain uncertain until the investigations are complete, it was true that Danny’s mental health had deteriorated in recent weeks.
As is widely known, Danny had experienced and lived with depression dating back a number of years. But to his credit, he had put up his hand and accepted psychiatric treatment, counselling and medication. He recovered and returned to being the Danny of old.
The road leading up to last Monday’s events began 8 months ago when Danny made the decision to take himself off his prescribed medication.
At this point Danny felt invincible, like the true competitor and proud man that he was; he felt that he had beaten the disease.
In fact, he felt bullet proof, which contributed to his decision to remove himself from his support network including his psychiatric care and not continuing to work with his team of mental health professionals.
The reason I am making this public is that I want this to be a reminder to all those grappling with mental health conditions and to those whom have made progress with their wellbeing that you should always seek help from professionals when considering making decisions surrounding your mental health, even when you feel as though you have fully recovered.
Our final memory of Danny is one we will cherish forever, a night spent sitting around our family table, playing board games and laughing on his 56th birthday. He will never be forgotten and will forever be in our hearts.
I would like to leave everyone with this quote from Danny, “manning up in the past was to suffer in silence, manning up now is to put your hand up.”
We invite all those who would like to farewell our remarkable man to join us at RSEA Park – St Kilda Football Club, 32/60 Linton St, Moorabbin, VIC, 3189 at 3pm on Wednesday the 18th of September.
We will be wearing a touch of blue in memory of Danny and for the significance of beyondblue (https://www.beyondblue.org.au/), PukaUp (https://www.pukaup.com/) and One In Five (https://oneinfive.com.au/).
To show your condolences, we ask that you please donate to beyondblue in honour of Danny.
Danny, you were the love of my life and will continue to be until our paths cross again.
Since Monday, there has been a gaping hole in our family which will never be repaired.
The girls and I are finding it difficult to accept you are gone and our lives as we knew them will never be the same.
We miss you. We will always miss you. Anita xx
Expert warns stopping medication raises risk of relapse
Associate Professor and consultant psychiatrist at Orygen Christopher Davey said depression was unfortunately a reoccurring illness for many people, with people going through periods of feeling well and unwell.
“It’s understandable … when people are feeling well that they might want to stop their treatment, but that does put them at greater risk of relapsing back into the depression,” he said.
“So it’s just really important when people want to stop medication that they do so under supervision of their treating clinicians.”
He added it was important to discuss metal illness despite the unfortunate stigma it attracts.
“As part of that [stigma], people might not be so willing to talk about their treatment and how treatment might be helping them,” he said.
“So it’s just really important that there is awareness that depression is widespread. It can be very serious and severe.”
“Medications can help, but the converse is that when people stop taking their medication they are putting themselves at high risk of things getting worse.”
He said it was fairly common for people to stop taking their medication or seeing their therapist when they felt well.
“One of the advices we always give to people who are taking medication is that they do continue taking their medication for six to 12 months after they feel better just because of how risky it is for them of relapsing back into that depression in those 12 months after they get better,” he said.