Danny Frawley and his wife Anita had hopes of a new life, moving away from football to horse racing in Ballarat, in the year before his death.
The Coroners Court finding - released today - says that by January 2019, the couple had been working to build up their Ballarat racing property and "Mr Frawley's demeanour seemed to be the best it had been since his breakdown in 2014".
A beloved Bungaree export and St Kilda Football Club favourite, Mr Frawley died in a single-car crash with a tree in Millbrook on September 9, 2019.
The Courier understands the Frawleys, while still living in Melbourne, had purchased the former training base of Anita's father Barry James, a veteran thoroughbred breeder, owner and trainer.
Re-launched as Sylvan Lodge Equine Centre in partnership with Anita's sister, the Miners Rest base specialises in thoroughbred pre-training, agistment and rehabilitation.
The finding stated it was about this time, Mr Frawley told his wife he had ceased taking his medications with the permission of his psychiatrist.
Mr Frawley had also stopped seeing his psychiatrist of five years for anxiety and depression.
In these five years, Mr Frawley became a public advocate for men's mental health while facing his personal mental health challenges.
Mrs Frawley said in the report that Danny never revealed the full extent of his struggles to the general public or his friends "or how it affected his closest relationships".
Mr Frawley was also a passionate ambassador for Ballarat Cycle Classic, raising money for the homegrown Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute.
The Classic last year launched the Spud 100, a 160-kilometre (or 100-mile) ride taking in his hometown Bungaree in his honour.
The Courier understands Mr Frawley had been working with Classic organisers prior to his death on a challenging course for experienced riders.
Coroner calls for more research into concussion
In the finding, the Coroner called for more research into concussion-linked brain damage following Mr Frawley's death.
The St Kilda champion had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease linked to repeated head blows.
Coroner Paresa Spanos has called for the AFL and player's association to encourage players, and their legal representatives, to agree to donate their brains to the Australian Sports Brain Bank following their deaths.
CTE can only be diagnosed after death, is linked to mood and behavioural changes, and sometimes cognitive and memory impairment.
In her findings into Frawley's death handed down on Tuesday, Ms Spanos called for more research into the condition and how it leads to neurological dysfunction.
Ms Spanos said Frawley's mental health had deteriorated significantly before his death. CTE was potentially linked to the depression he had experienced for about five years prior.
The weight of evidence supported the conclusion Frawley took his own life the day after his 56th birthday, Ms Spanos said.
Frawley played 240 games for St Kilda between 1984 and 1995, having been recruit from Bungaree.
He captained the club for 177 games, making him the Saints' longest-serving skipper before being surpassed by Nick Riewoldt in 2016.
Frawley was inducted into St Kilda's Hall of Fame in 2007 and after his playing career coached Richmond for five years until 2004.
He then became chief executive of the AFL Coaches Association.
The AFL earlier this year doubled the time concussed players were barred from returning to the field from six to 12 days.
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