The Victorian Coroners Court has released its investigation into the death of AFL great and former FOX Footy presenter, Danny “Spud” Frawley.
Frawley died tragically from a car crash in September 2019.
FOX Sports reports the coroner found Frawley was battling depression when he crashed into a tree 20km east of Ballarat.
Frawley, who had spoken publicly about his mental health battles, passed away “almost certainly rapid in onset” of the crash. No alcohol or illicit drugs were found in his system however prescription drugs were.
He was posthumously diagnosed with CTE, a neurological disorder believed to be caused by repeated brain trauma and concussions.
The Coroner’s report states Frawley began treatment for his mental health in June 2014.
“He had a significant constellation of depressive symptoms including significant insomnia, depressive ruminations, relative anhedonia, self-reproachment, amotivation, difficulty functioning and episodic passive suicidality,’’ the report said.
“He had also engaged in poor decision making and conduct that caused conflict in his marriage.”
The report added, “To his family, Mr Frawley would lie in bed all week and be extremely needy, but he would be able to put on a brave ‘public face’ and give the appearance of normal functioning.’’
The Coroner found CTE was a “potential contributor” to the depression Frawley suffered from but the degree of its impact cannot be concluded, due to the need for more research into the area.
“Although CTE has long been associated with mental health symptoms including depression and aggression, no strong causal link with suicide has been established,” the Mental Health Investigator found.
“Further, since CTE can only be diagnosed post-mortem, it is impossible to establish at what point CTE began and whether this coincided with any changes in mood or behaviour.”
The Coroner also concluded there were no failures in Frawley’s clinical management.
She recommended the AFL “actively encourages players” to donate their brains to the Australian Sports Brain Bank after death to enable more research into CTE.
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