Charlotte Dawson found dead
A series of intersecting and stressful events formed the backdrop to the final hours of an already vulnerable and depressed Charlotte Dawson, who was found dead in her luxury waterside apartment at Woolloomooloo.
The 47-year-old television personality was coping with her two-bedroom apartment on the Finger Wharf going up for auction on Saturday, she felt she was not getting enough promotion for the Logie award votes for her former role as judge on the Foxtel reality TV series Australia's Next Top Model, and she had recently been setting up a homewares range.
On top of that, friends say she was struggling after the 60 Minutes tell-all interview with her former husband Scott Miller, whom she had confessed she still loved and would be the only man she would ever marry.
In her last interview just a week ago with Fairfax Media journalist Jo Casamento, Dawson had said she was unsure if she was strong enough to watch the interview which cavassed their failed marriage, his battle with the drug ice, criminal convictions for drug offences, stolen goods and prohibited weapons as well as accusations he was a pimp and a drug dealer.
''I continue to fight my depression - it's a bitch of a thing - and I fear watching something like this as it's the most painful time in my life,'' she said.
''I will be with a friend, but I am not looking forward to it. It was a painful time in my life and it might not be good for me. To me it's well over 10 years ago. This broke me very much. I had to go away for five years and leave this country and rebuild my life ... I've adjusted and moved on but it is still very painful.''
Whatever the trigger points, the troubled New Zealand born star was found about 1.20pm (NZT) on Saturday just a few minutes after her apartment was due to be open for inspection ahead of a 12 noon auction.
It is understood an agent from real estate company Morton and Morton, which was selling the property, found her.
News of her death was greeted with sadness by New Zealanders who knew her.
Model Rachel Hunter tweeted: ''I'm devastated such an amazing woman & kind soul.''
John Key tweeted: "Shocked and saddened to hear of Charlotte Dawson's death."
National Party MP Tau Henare tweeted she had been "hounded and taunted on social media" and he was "so angry to hear of her death".
TV3 host John Campbell tweeted "so very sad".
The 47-year-old - who became a television star on both sides of the Tasman - had a highly public battle with depression.
She was treated in August 2012 following a suicide attempt. She also struggled on social media where trolls viciously attacked her on both Facebook and Twitter.
Dawson's New Zealand television credits included chat show How's Life, Prime's Getaway and Charlotte's Lists. Across the Tasman, she was a judge in Australia's Next Top Model and a host of reality boxing show The Contender Australia.
It was hard in the spotlight for Dawson though and in January she announced she was pulling out of Australia's Next Top Model as a judge.
She made the decision after a holiday in Bali and tweeted it had been a great experience but added: "I truly adored my time on ANTM but my heart tells me I don't think young girls should pursue the modelling world."
When asked by a fan why she'd had a change of heart, Charlotte replied: "It's a brutal game. I'm out. I can no longer be a part of this machine."
She told Australian newspaper the Herald Sun Confidential: "I'm tired of the anxiety that comes with working in media, especially as a woman because you're scrutinized daily and abused about the way you look."
Despite this, Dawson was never far from the spotlight and on Friday she was tweeting prolifically about people suffering from life threatening cancer conditions and in particular a man suffering inoperable stomach cancer.
In her last tweets, she was telling her 53,700 followers that the plight of Lex Oliver was "a sad joke. So preventable, I've been lobbying this for ages but a dumb telly blonde nobody listens to".
Her last tweet 20 hours ago said: "We have the hospitals/resources & the doctors & professors willing to help. Where is the govt support?"
Dawson had spent her last 20 hours at Nine filming a morning show and later brunching with photographer Jamies Jamie while her apartment was open for inspection. The last known photos show her happy and smiling and walking in the sunshine.
Dawson's long term manager Mark Byrne paid tribute to her on Saturday, remarking how much people loved her.
"She touched a lot of people. She took me under her wing and was my first big client. She was a friend and mentor as well. She had an acerbic wit and such a media savvy mind - her brain ate media for breakfast," said Byrne.
After fifteen years as her manager, he knew her well and described her as a woman who knew how to take charge.
"She was a tough woman, she knew what she wanted and what was sad, that later no one tapped that brain."
"She was the queen of the acerebic one lines. I remember saying I dont feel as close to you anymore and she laughed" darling, that's because my face doesn't move.'''
Ben Fordham, who met Dawson on a weekly basis last saw her on Friday.
"It's just awful for the people who knew and loved her closely but also for those who knew and loved her form afar - they might never have met her but would have related to her because she was so raw and so real," said Fordham.
There were recent hints that all was not right with Dawson.
Earlier this month when Casamento posted a picture on Twitter of former fellow judges Alex Perry and Didier Cohen at the Astra Nominations for media personalities, Charlotte tweeted back ''guess I'm not nominated this year? Phewsies NOT to be subjected to another crushing defeat.''
It is understood that friends were already suspicious something was up, when the usually prolific tweeter and instagrammer had left her accounts dormant for 19 hours.
Dawson posted her last photo of herself about to go on morning television to talk sex. ''As you can see I'm racking my brains & have gone blank," she wrote. The picture had attracted admiring comments from followers saying how beautiful she looked.
At the top of her Instagram page she had also posted this poignant message: "Some people think to be strong is to never feel pain. However the strongest people are the ones that have felt pain, understood it, accepted it and learned from it."
BATTLE WITH DEPRESSION
Dawson was an ambassador for Angels Goal, a group to promote awareness and prevention of bullying in schools and sporting organisations and is a mentor for Community Brave, a foundation set up to eradicate online bullying.
Her battle with depression saw many media accounts on her, including reports last November that she had dropped her Australian management company after it said it was increasingly difficult to promote a client with a history of mental illness.
She had just been in a Sydney hospital following an anxiety attack.
She had received an email from Chic Celebrity Management this week saying her outspokenness on a variety of issues - including mental health - was undermining its ability to sell her "brand".
"I always thought that they were very supportive of my condition, I don't know what to say," Dawson said after posting an extract of the email on Instagram.
In the email, the company said: "The Chic team do feel that you are damaging your brand by many of the opinions you express and the intimate insights you give into your personal life, and we believe it is making it extremely difficult for Chic to generate business for you."
It said her brand was no longer seen as aspirational.
Dawson responded: "Brand? I'm a human & I share my highs & lows to relate to everyone? Is this what management has come to? Disgraceful."
In 2012, Dawson spoke about a sense of helplessness she felt as the target of online death threats, but had to fight back against the taunts, which eventually led to her admission to hospital.
In an interview on 60 Minutes, she said the experience was "really humiliating and embarrassing [but] I will recover from this".
Last year she confronted several of the trolls who had attacked her on Twitter for Australia's Seven News.
"The thing that I got out of visiting these people and them agreeing to talk to us is the fact that their online bravado is completely polar opposite to what they are, " Dawson said in the report.
In response to criticism that the TV report was pure publicity seeking and a form of bullying in itself, Dawson said: "I did the story... for a sense of closure and ownership. The message is that if you want that freedom of speech and you want to lash out at people, well, you can be easily traced and if someone wants to find you, they can."
After the television show she was taken to St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney after police were called to her inner-city home in Sydney at 3.05am local time, after many Twitter followers called for her to "please go hang yourself".
The television presenter said she had never experienced death threats of the "ferocity" she experienced on Twitter. She said when she returned home from a party that night in August, she was confronted with a stream of abusive messages, some of which said "stick her head in a toaster" and "kill yourself".
Dawson spent hours fending off the attacks, but signed off at 2.07am with the message: "you win x", with a picture of a hand holding tablets. She also tweeted: "Hope this ends the misery".
That was after enduring a barrage of tweets containing pornographic images, pictures of dead bodies, and vile messages.
Dawson said that the online trolls got to her. But the anonymous online attackers were cowards, she said. "If you're going to express those points of view, you should do it with a face and a name so that you can be accountable. It's the anonymity they celebrate because they think there are no consequences."
Dawson was released after spending two days under observation at St Vincent's Psychiatric Emergency Care Centre.
Dawson was involved in a public spat with television entrepreneur Julie Christie.
"There's a long history between us," Dawson told Sunday News.
"I've had run-ins with her before and I've absolutely not a shred of respect for her because she's a bully.
FRIENDS AND FANS REACT
RIP Charlotte Dawson . I'm devastated such an amazing woman & kind soul. Heartbreaking !— RACHEL HUNTER (@rachelhunterx) February 22, 2014
Shocked and saddened to hear of Charlotte Dawson’s death.— John Key (@johnkeypm) February 22, 2014
So sad to hear about the death of Charlotte Dawson. So many years of good memories - she's leaving us all too soon— Paul Blomfield (@PaulBlomfield) February 22, 2014
Heartbroken to hear news that Charlotte Dawson has died. In shock right now. U will always have a special place in our hearts Charlotte. RIP— Kyle and Jackie O (@kyleandjackieo) February 22, 2014
Charlotte Dawson was the reason i love Aus Next Top Model— Babyto1Billion (@PerthKidrauhl) February 22, 2014
RIP Charlotte Dawson. She was always so beautiful and lovely when I met her x x x— Ellie Mobbs (@EllieMobbs) February 22, 2014
Completely shocked and genuinely saddened upon hearing the news of Charlotte Dawson's death. Hope she is now at peace.— David Stevens (@TheDavidStevens) February 22, 2014
Tragic and awful news about Charlotte Dawson. Hopefully can lead to important conversations on mental illness and the stigma surrounding it.— Denham Sadler (@denhamsadler) February 22, 2014
Very sad news about Charlotte Dawson. Always loved her on Top Model.— Hayley (@vivala_hayley) February 22, 2014
Ugh. Charlotte Dawson's death is a brutal reminder of the crippling pain of living w mental health disorders. Take care. Seek help. Be kind.— Kellulz (@kellulz) February 22, 2014
One of the friends I've made on Twitter was Charlotte Dawson. I'm so sad at this news. RIP Charlotte.— Carly Findlay (@carlyfindlay) February 22, 2014
Although we only met a few times, Charlotte Dawson was one of the most genuinely kind and beautiful woman I have ever come across.— Rhiannon Marie Fish (@RhiannonMFish) February 22, 2014
SEARCH FOR FAMILY
In 2003 Dawson told Sunday News she was adopted at birth.
"Lot's of people my age - babies of the 60s - were adopted out,” she said.
"Last year I did a story about my experience for a magazine, and I thought the time was right to find my mother.
"I became intrigued about my DNA."
Dawson was adopted by Auckland orthopaedic surgeon Richard Dawson and his wife Jose.
Richard died of a heart attack when she was just one.
Dawson always knew she was adopted, and grew up knowing nothing of her birth parents.
At 15-years-old she put a veto on her adoption file preventing them from finding out about her.
She said being adopted never caused her concern.
Dawson began her search by obtaining her pre-adoption birth certificate - containing her mother's details.
Her father's name was not on the certificate.
"When I saw my mother's name, she became a real person to me and the emotion really kicked in," Dawson said.
"It's been like nothing I've experienced - there have been some extreme highs and some extreme lows."
She tracked down her mother and their reunion was caught on camera for Charlotte's Web.
"It was more of a shock for mum because I had the advantage of being prepared," Dawson said.
"Mum said she wondered if I was her daughter after seeing photos of me - she thought I had her eyes.”
She said she's blessed to have the love of two mothers.
"There's a saying that blood's thicker than water," she said, ‘‘but I'm proof that's not necessarily so.’’
"Jose has battled for me, supported me and given me unconditional love.
"Now I've met the woman who gave birth to me - and without knowing me, she's got a lot of love for me too.
"I've got two examples of how strong the bonds of love can be."
CHARLOTTE DAWSON TIMELINE
* Born on 8 April 1966 in Auckland.
* Left New Zealand at 16 to pursue an international modelling career before settling in Sydney.
* In 1997 became beauty and fashion director for Woman's Day in Australia and later style editor for New Idea there and was fashion correspondent for E! News and a panelist on Beauty and the Beast.
* Returned to New Zealand in 2002 to present TVNZ show How's Life and Prime's Getaway.
* In 2007 she sued the Australian edition of Woman's Day over their coverage of her divorce from former Olympic swimmer Scott Miller and settled out of court.
* Appeared as a celebrity contestant in The Celebrity Apprentice Australia in 2012.
* The same year was admitted to hospital in Sydney after attempting suicide after a much-publicised battle with Twitter trolls.
*Appeared as a judge on Australia's Next Top Model from 2007 to 2013.
Youthline: 0800 376 633 or free text 234 - Provides 24 hour telephone and text counselling services for young people
Samaritans: 0800 726 666 - Provides 24 hour telephone counselling.
Tautoko: 0508 828 865 - provides support, information and resources to people at risk of suicide, and their family, whānau and friends.
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (noon to midnight)
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (4pm - 6pm weekdays)
Lifeline: 0800 543 354 - Provides 24 hour telephone counselling
If it is an emergency or you feel you or someone you know is at risk, please call 111
For information about suicide prevention, see http://www.spinz.org.nz