Danny Frawley in the picture with his wife Anita
Danny Frawley’s heartbroken widow has opened up about what she believes pushed the footy amazingly to end his life.
The St Kilda AFL legend and former Richmond coach was killed when his vehicle crashed into a tree near Ballarat, Victoria, just before 1:30 pm on 9 September 2019 – a day after his 56th birthday.
He was pronounced dead on the spot, leaving behind his wife Anita and three daughters Chelsea, Keeley and Danielle.
Nearly 18 months after his death, Spud’s Game: Time 2 Talk, a new mental health charity will launch in the second round of the AFL season in his honor.
An emotional Mrs. Frawley spoke out in support of the cause about the signs leading to her husband’s suicide.
She explained that the chronic traumatic encephalopathy, possibly caused by repeated blows to the head, prompted Frawley to make a rash decision to commit suicide.
The condition, which can cause depression and suicidal thoughts, can only be detected after death and has been linked to repeated headbutts and concussions.
Frawley leaves behind his wife Anita and three beautiful daughters Chelsea, Keeley and Danielle
The St Kilda legend and former Richmond coach was killed when his vehicle crashed into a tree near Ballarat, Victoria on September 9, 2019, just before 1:30 pm – a day after his 56th birthday
“Now if he could see the pain that remains, the ripple effect, families destroyed, it’s so cruel and so difficult.”
The horrors of that fateful September night remain traumatic for Mrs. Frawley, her three daughters, and those close to Frawley.
‘The pain that remains is a life full of pain. It’s grueling. I don’t see any way out, but also that the pain he must have been in, and I don’t think about that too often, because it’s too much, “Mrs. Frawley said.
Frawley pictured with his wife Anita and three daughters Chelsea, Keeley and Danielle
Shane Tuck of the Tigers and wife Katherine Tuck pose for the 2012 Brownlow Medal
The pain came back when Shayne Tuck, who played 173 games for Richmond between 2004 and 2013 and kicked 74 goals, passed away on July 20 last year after a long battle with mental illness.
“I hate the thought of other people going through what we’ve been through … it hurts me a lot … I hate the thought of it,” Mrs. Frawley said.
“When I heard about Shane Tuck, I cried all day. The thought that other families are going through what we’ve been through, what we’ve been through, will be in my future to try to prevent it as much as possible, and do everything possible in the hope of making a difference. ‘
She suggested that removing the stigma surrounding mental health could have prevented her husband’s decision.
“If you can avoid anxiety or panic attacks or any kind of mental health problem, you have done well because I think the society we live in is conducive to creating a lot of our problems,” she said.
‘I’m just thinking about early intervention and getting it out there. It may not work for everyone.
The signs are there – irritability, staying at home, changing normal patterns of behavior, not wanting to run or go for a ride, and just avoid.
‘When people become more aware of it, and then become more aware of how to act, they check in with people.’
Frawley has been candid about his depression in the past and spoke candidly about encouraging others to seek help
Wife Anita Frawley and daughters Keeley, Danielle and Chelsea are seen at a celebration of Danny Frawley’s life held at RSEA Park in Melbourne, Wednesday 18 September 2019
Frawley has been candid about his depression in the past and spoke candidly about encouraging others to seek help.
In a statement released a week after his death, Ms. Frawley revealed that in the months leading up to his death, he had refrained from prescription medication.
“The road leading to the crash events began eight months before Danny made the decision to move off his prescription medication,” she wrote.
At that moment Danny felt invincible, like the real competitor and proud man he was; he felt he had beaten the disease.
Nicknamed Spud because he grew up on a potato farm, Frawley played 240 games for St Kilda before coaching Richmond to the 2001 preliminary final (pictured with his daughter)
In fact, he felt bulletproof, which contributed to his decision to remove himself from his support network, including his psychiatric care, and stop working with his team of mental health professionals.
“You should always seek help from professionals when considering making mental health decisions, even if you feel like you have fully recovered.”
Nicknamed Spud because he grew up on a potato farm, Frawley played 240 games for St Kilda before coaching Richmond to the 2001 preliminary final.
He was St Kilda’s longest serving captain until Nick Riewoldt eclipsed his record in 2014.
He has commented on the AFL for Triple M, Fox Sports, SEN and the Nine Network – and also worked part-time as a defensive coach with his beloved Saints.
For confidential support, call Lifeline: 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au or Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636.