THE shock death of Danny Frawley needs to act as a spur for men of Ballarat to talk and seek assistance about their mental health, says a man who had known the AFL champion since childhood.
Simon Dwyer, who is now the chairman of the Chris Yeung Fund - which aims to support former St Patrick's students impacted by mental health issues - sat in front of the Frawley in Form One at the school in 1976.
He says the death of the former footballer needs to be a circuit breaker for a city which has felt the impacts of too many premature deaths.
GALLERY: Danny Frawley in Ballarat
Frawley had been open about his own struggles with mental health and depression in recent years.
"It's a significant moment and we've had enough up here," Mr Dwyer said.
Tragically, Frawley's death comes on the same day as two funerals of well-known Ballarat people whose lives were cut short.
READ MORE: Change in mindset needed about mental health
Mr Dwyer described his friend as "having a heart of a lion". "I can't claim to know if he had problems at school, I don't think he did, it started becoming apparent when the stories came back that he wasn't in a good place," Mr Dwyer said.
"I remember him flicking my ears with the ruler, the bloke you saw on Bounce was the bloke he was. He had a heart of gold. He was a bit of a hero to us, there's no-one that was in our group or our year that didn't tell their children they grew up with Danny Frawley."
Movember's Psychologist and Director of Professional Training, Zac Seidler said men's mental health remained difficult to diagnose.
"Men are only diagnosed with depression at a third of the rate of women. We are starting to ask 'what is the discrepancy here?" Mr Seidler said.
"This stuff doesn't discriminate. It doesn't matter how much money you have, what your job is, everyone goes through it."
Frawley had originally been booked as the key note speaker for the annual MENtal Brekky which will be held at St Patrick's on October 18.
However, one month ago he pulled out of the engagement.
"Up until a month ago, he was 'yep mate, of course, I'll be there' but then things started to get a little bit wobbly and he cancelled his appearance," Mr Dwyer said.
"The MENtal Brekky is taking on a significant issue. It's all about having a conversation, be brave about your mental demons, men are well placed to look after themselves.
"Reach out to your mates and your family."
Mr Seidler said men display signs of anxiety and depression in different ways to women.
This stuff doesn't discriminate. It doesn't matter how much money you have, what your job is, everyone goes through it.Movember's Psychologist and Director of Professional Training Zac Seidler
"We tell men to suck it up, not to cry," he said. "There are underlying social issues as well that mean when they come through the door they often slip through the cracks and we end up losing them even if they actually have sought help," he said.
Mental Health Victoria chief executive officer Angus Clelland said men were particularly bad at talking about themselves.
"Social support networks are particularly important whether it is through the golf club or the footy club, those are the avenues people can use including local GPs, ministers of religion are particularly important as well," Mr Clelland said.
"Having the conversation is the key thing and being prepared that if someone says they are not travelling well you are able to support that person and hopefully get them the help that they need.
"Withdrawing from social groups, obvious signs of being depressed or anxious, not engaging anymore, changes in behaviour, getting down to the point of people almost making plans or saying goodbye are some of those signs.
If you wish to attend the MENtal Brekky on October 18, you can purchase a ticket at trybooking.com/book/event?eid=545441
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