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6 weeks before she died, Charlotte Dawson gave her final interview.

Charlotte Dawson

WARNING: This post deals with suicide and depression and may be upsetting for some readers. 

Charlotte Dawson conducted her final television interview only six weeks before her death.

The 47-year-old TV presenter and former model’s final interview – which took place at a retreat in Bali, as she took some time out to regroup – has been revealed on Channel 7’s Sunday Night this evening.

Sunday Night has worked to piece together the final six weeks of her life, before Dawson was found dead in her apartment in February. They also interviewed her sisters Vicky and Robin as well as her close friend and fashion designer Alex Perry.

Charlotte’s interview was a candid and open discussion of her heartbreak and battle with depression. With the power of hindsight, every one of her words seem to take on new meaning. She spoke openly about her depression, the vitriol she faced from internet trolls and her struggles to find meaningful and lasting employment.

Throughout the interview, Charlotte spoke about wanting to make a “fresh start” in 2014, but according to her friends, her optimism was a performance, a charade. Beneath her seeming confidence and bravado, Charlotte was scared and sad.

“She was fearful because when she was trying to put the positive spin on it and the bright eyes, talk of the future, the eyebrows going up — that was Charlotte performing,” Alex Perry told Sunday Night.

“I’m looking down the barrel of an unemployment gun and the bullet’s gone off,” Charlotte said from Bali. “I can’t be fearful, that’s my worst enemy… It’s everybody’s worst enemy: fear of the future, especially when you don’t have one to look at.”

After quitting Foxtel’s Australia’s Next Top Model, Dawson was struggling to find other consistent work in the television industry. It is believed she was suffering from financial stresses at the time of her death and was about $80,000 in debt. She was found dead on the day her Sydney apartment was going to be auctioned off.

Charlotte said she was ‘looking down the barrel of an unemployment gun’.

Sunday Night covered the early years of Charlotte’s life, speaking to her sisters, Vicky and Robin. Charlotte was adopted when her teenage birth mother gave her up for adoption.

She had a mostly happy childhood in New Zealand, until she was sexually abused at the hands of an elderly neighbour. Her sister Robin says that she believes this may have affected Charlotte for the rest of her life.

Robin thought that deep down, Charlotte may have harboured guilt over the incident. This is not uncommon amongst child abuse victims, who often feel they somehow invited the abuse.

According to her sisters, Charlotte was never troubled by the fact that she was adopted but her desire to create a family of her own certainly shaped her adult life.

Charlotte told Sunday Night, “I don’t have a partner, I don’t have my mother or father, I don’t have any family in Australia, I don’t have anything. I’m just me and so I don’t have that shoulder to cry on at night.”

Charlotte Dawson and Scott Miller.

Charlotte had an abortion in 1999 while with Olympic swimmer Scott Miller, a decision that she said deeply affected her. Shortly after they married, Charlotte discovered that Scott Miller had cheated on her and the couple split-up.

Charlotte had said at various points in the past – and her family reiterated this view in their interview with Sunday Night – that this was when they first began to see signs of Charlotte’s depression emerging.

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Her friend Alex Perry told Sunday Night, “Those things that we value, your marriage or your relationship. The roof over your head, the child that you want to have, I can’t think of three bigger things in life than that, [and they were] gone.”

Charlotte struggled with depression for many years but social media played an increasingly significant role in both her life and her depression. When she became the host of Australia’s Next Top Model, Charlotte started being lambasted on Twitter by trolls – who often directed their vicious commentary directly at her, online. After receiving a storm of abuse, Dawson tried to commit suicide in 2012.

While staying in Bali, Dawson told Sunday Night, “I thought there was manners involved [in social media], I thought there was etiquette involved but there’s not and it’s a real problem and people are killing themselves because of it.”

Her sister said that she wished Charlotte had been able to stop looking at social media – and what people were saying about her – but “unfortunately she had an addictive personality… and she was addicted to social media.”

In his interview, Alex Perry read out a number of tweets Charlotte Dawson had received before her death. Tweets from trolls calling her ugly. Saying she was useless. Telling her to kill herself.

Alex Perry slammed the internet trolls who had made Charlotte’s struggles more difficult.

Alex Perry said angrily, through tears, “That’s human filth. You as a human being think that’s okay to type that to another person?… I’m not bullying you, I’m just saying I think you’re a piece of sh*t [for writing that].”

Towards the end of the interview, Alex Perry also revealed that he wishes he had seen a psychologist like Charlotte – so that he might have better known how he could help his dear friend.

His words ring so true for many Australians who have loved ones battling mental illness. Often we don’t know how to help ourselves, let alone how to help other people.

As part of her interview in Bali, the cameras followed Charlotte to a Bali healer who told her that she was “holding pain and sadness and it’s breaking your heart piece by piece… You need to forgive and you blame yourself.” As the woman told her this, Charlotte nodded – with tears in her eyes.

In the interview, Charlotte noted that, “This is what I have to do: I have to love myself.” But loving yourself is an easy thing to say you should do. It’s much harder in practice.

Charlotte’s sisters also spoke to Sunday Night.

Perhaps, this interview with Charlotte Dawson will encourage others who are struggling to love themselves and actually show that love towards themselves, by seeking help if they need it.

Through tears, her sister Robin pointed out, “She just had no idea how many people adored her and respected her… And that’s what depression does.”

“She was an incredibly beautiful person and I’m going to miss her dreadfully.”

Charlotte Dawson’s home wares range, which she designed with her close friend designer Billy Allen, will launch later this month. Eighty per cent of the proceeds will go to – Lifeline, Community Brave, ACON, Angels Goals and The Smile Foundation.

If this post brings up issues for you, or you just need someone to talk to, please call Lifeline on 131 114. You can also visit the Lifeline website here and the Beyond Blue website here

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