Friends tried to save fragile Charlotte Dawson

JO CASAMENTO
Last updated 10:26 24/02/2014

Dawson's demons

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As news of the death of Charlotte Dawson filtered across both sides of the Tasman, her grief-stricken friends were putting together the details of her memorial and wondering how the woman they loved could be farewelled in a fitting manner.

A close family friend has said the body would most likely be cremated privately in Sydney later this week and there would be dual memorial services - one in Sydney and one in her native New Zealand.

On Sunday, friends of the vivacious television presenter were still coming to terms with her death, speaking about their tortured friend who had long dealt with depression.

One devastated friend who worked closely with the star for years, and tried many times to help her, said: ''There are so many of us that tried so hard for so long to help Charlotte and give her what she needed but, sadly, it was never enough. We just weren't equipped to deal with it.''

Another said Dawson was on her own trajectory and she had the will of an ox: ''You could try to steer her in one direction but she operated on her own agenda and she was such a strong-willed woman.''

According to one friend, Dawson was fixated on an anti-anxiety drug that she thought would help her quit drinking.

Fairfax Media understands Dawson was taking Baclofen, a muscle relaxant that French cardiologist Olivier Ameisen claimed had cured him of drinking alcohol, sparking international headlines.

''She looked a million dollars when I saw her last week,'' a friend said. ''She had given up drinking and was talking about an anti-depressant she was taking ... Charlotte subscribed to the theory 'you take a pill for everything'. She sent me the link to a story on this drug, believing it would help her.''

Mark Byrne, who managed Dawson for 15 years, said she had an ability to make people laugh.

''She touched a lot of people but the public eye was her tormenter as well,'' he said.

Pieced together conversations from friends who spent time with her over the past week reveal a woman trying to come to terms with her life and her future.

''She was crying for hours, saying 'I'm not so good' - I knew she wasn't well,'' said one devastated friend.

''I said 'you are strong' and begged her to go away with me for the weekend to Byron Bay. I knew she wasn't strong but then, a minute later, she would bounce back and be laughing ... She was so tough and yet so vulnerable.''

WHERE TO FIND HELP

If you or someone you know needs to talk, these are 24-hour helplines:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354

Youthline: 0800 376 633

Samaritans: 0800 726 666

If it is an emergency call 111

For information about suicide prevention, see http://www.spinz.org.nz

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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