Victorian coroner called for more research into the long-term consequences of headbuttings in contact sports while confirming the devastating final months of Danny Frawley’s life

Frawley, an AFL legend, had CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which is associated with repeated blows to the head and cannot be diagnosed until after death

The 56-year-old killed himself in a single car crash the day after his birthday in September 2019

In her findings on the death of the St Kilda legend, Victorian coroner Paresa Spanos said AFL players should be encouraged to donate their brains to science to shed more light on CTE

Frawley suffered around 20 concussions during his 240-game career with St Kilda between 1984 and 1995 and retired before CTE was discovered

His mental health started to deteriorate when he finished his coaching job at Richmond in 2004, according to his wife Anita

A decade later, he started seeing a psychiatrist for his depression, but “has never been the same,” Ms Frawley said

Frawley became an advocate for men’s mental health, but kept the scope of his own struggles private

From late 2018 and over the following year, he stopped taking his antidepressants and seeing his psychiatrist, started drinking excessively, withdrew from his family, and his marriage suffered

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Frawley started treatment five weeks before his death and the day before seemed happy to be celebrating his birthday with friends and family

“He exhibited a significant constellation of depressive symptoms, including severe insomnia, depressive ruminations, relative anhedonia, self-blame, amotivation, difficulty functioning and episodic passive suicidality,” the report said Tuesday. of the coroner

“He was also engaged in poor decision-making and misconduct which caused conflict in his marriage

“For his family, Mr. Frawley would stay in bed all week and be extremely needy, but he would be able to be brave and appear to be functioning normally

“From around April 2019, she observed that he was getting more and more erratic and that he started to eat and drink in excess

“M Frawley stopped showing up for scheduled bike rides with his friends and was absorbed in his own needs with little apparent respect for his family

“He avoided his family’s Christmas parties in July, preferring to spend time with an AFL national team he had coached”

Ms Spanos concluded that it was impossible to establish when Frawley developed CTE and did not know how much it affected his mental health

“M Frawley started his footballing career during his formative years and likely suffered a head injury before his personality was well established, “the coroner said

“This, together with the inability to diagnose CTE before death, confuses the assessment of the contribution of CTE to personality, behaviors, any cognitive impairment, or mood lability”

The prevalence of CTE in Australia is unknown But the coroner pointed to studies suggesting that at least 17% of people with repetitive concussions or mild traumatic brain injuries have developed it

Among his recommendations were calls for the AFL and its players’ association to encourage footballers to agree to donate their brains to the Australian Sports Brain Bank after their deaths

It would help further research and improve the safety of future AFL players and others involved in contact sports at all levels, Ms Spanos said.

Earlier this year, the AFL doubled the time ban for concussed players from returning to the field from six to 12 days

Readers looking for help and information on suicide prevention can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467

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Danny Frawley

World News – UA – Coroner confirms devastating details of tragic death of Danny Frawley