Stress and rays of sunshine: Charlotte Dawson's final days

TV personality Charlotte Dawson has been found dead inside her Sydney home.

TV personality Charlotte Dawson has been found dead inside her Sydney home.

• Darkness behind Charlotte's life in the spotlight

A series of intersecting and stressful events formed the backdrop to the final hours of an already vulnerable and depressed Charlotte Dawson, who killed herself 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.

Outside Charlotte Dawson's apartment in Woolloomooloo. Photo: Janie Barrett

Outside Charlotte Dawson's apartment in Woolloomooloo. Photo: Janie Barrett

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 11.20am on Saturday morning  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. 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.

She 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."

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 said "We have the hospitals/resources & the doctors & professors willing to help. Where is the govt support?"

Dawson had also been urging her followers to send their love to the mum of five who was about to undergo surgery.

A few locals gathered outside Dawson's apartment on Finger Wharf at Woolloomooloo after news of her death broke Saturday morning.

Woolloomooloo resident Friday White was saddened by the news: "I live nearby. I always used to see her at China Doll restaurant.

"I was really shocked [to hear of her death]. She stuck up for the gay community, she supported us heavily. She was just an amazing person."

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".

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".

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.

Speaking to Fairfax in October 2012, Dawson said she saw no reason to stay out of the limelight following her August suicide attempt, sparked by a barrage of abuse, mostly anonymous, on Twitter, where Dawson was a regular combatant.

"Who are they, or you for that matter, to tell me what to do? Are you a mental health expert? No. So they can all f---- off," an emotionally raw Dawson said when asked why she would appear on Seven News at such a sensitive time in her treatment.

"So, because I have a mental illness I should disappear and hide? Ever since I went into hospital, all I have heard and read about is people telling me what they think I should do."

Dawson was married to Olympic swimmer Scott Miller in 1999 but the marriage broke up two years later.

For help call Lifeline on 131 114 or visit beyondblue.org.au

'Wish you knew how much you were loved'

Friends and colleagues of Charlotte Dawson, who was found dead at her Woollomooloo home on Saturday morning, have reacted to the news of her death with shock.

Ben Fordham, who met Dawson on a weekly basis as she arrived at Nine to film Mornings as Fordham wrapped up the Today Show, 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 from afar - they might never have met her but would have related to her because she was so raw and so real," he said.

"My main relationship with her was one where we used to bump into each other on a weekly basis in the corridors at Channel Nine and we'd poke fun at each other and rev each other up and generally have a good time together and have a laugh.

"She was outgoing, outrageous, outspoken, more than anything she was an outstanding human being. She lived in a bit of a dream world, I suppose, as far as fashion, TV modelling, champagne and parties, but above all these, she was a rock solid character who was loyal to everyone around her."

He made a point of highlighting Dawson's passionate persistence when it came to campaigning for lifesaving medical care for patients, such as her friend Nicole Perko.

"She enlisted the help of people and ran a million miles and hour at it until the NSW health authority caved in and agreed to operate. There's no question those operations wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for Charlotte."

"A lot of people would be used to seeding Charlotte on TV and in fashion fields, but behind the scenes she was a rock for her friends."

Deb Thomas, a Bauer general manager and former magazine editor, first met Dawson in the early 90s.

''I'm shocked, I'm absolutely shocked. We were on Mornings together about a week ago,'' she said. ''I've known her for a long, long time, I knew her in her early modelling days and more recently, we've spent time together on Celebrity Apprentice.

''She's always been troubled, I have to say, she had some terrible things happen to her as a young girl.

''It's such a tragedy for a beautiful young woman's life to end is such sad circumstances when had so much ahead of her.''

She said she had spoken with Dawson at the Mornings studio. ''We were talking about the success of her book, she was giving me some advice about some medical treatment I'd had.''

Brian Walsh, Foxtel's executive director of television, knew Dawson for 15 years and worked with her on the network's Australia's Next Top Model series.

''I'm deeply shocked and I think every at one at Foxtel who knows and loves Charlotte is in shock at the news - it is just profoundly sad. She was the consummate professional when she came to work and she made an invaluable contribution to  Australia's Next Top Model.

''She was someone young girls looked up to, [they saw] her honesty openness and vulnerability, which she wore in public and I can't help feeling that social media has played a role in this tragic outcome.

He said he last saw her socially before Christmas, when the pair talked about Dawson's plans for the year ahead.

''She was looking to do something different with her life and her career this year and we had a very honest chat as we always would. She felt she was ready for some new challenges in her life.''

News of Dawson's death has swept across social media site Instagram where Dawson regularly uploaded photographs.

Model Jen Hawkins wrote: RIP beautiful Charlotte. You will always be loved and missed. Love Jen. X"

Fox8TV wrote: "This is tragic news and deeply sad. Our sympathies are with Charlotte's family and friends."

Australia's Next Top Model's Didier Cohen wrote: "I wish you knew how much you were loved... I love and miss you forever ... I can't believe this... RIP."

Fashion designer Alex Perry wrote: "We lost a Beautiful, Bright, Shining girl today rest in peace my sweetheart ... I love you x."

Roxy Racenko wrote on her Sweaty Betty PR page: "RIP Charlotte - such a sad day - you were one in a million and will be missed dearly. Thank you For all you did for me xxxxxxx"

Model Megan Gale added: "Words just seem insufficient right now and can't come close to expressing just how much you will be missed Charlotte ... You were a Fantastic woman, Friend and work colleague who always knew how to make people laugh and you gave the best advice. You've left us far too soon, but I pray now that you've found peace and are at rest - love Megan xxxx"

Models from Australia's Next Top Model were quick to add their condolences online.

Chanique Greyling, season 8 contestant, wrote: "My heart and prayers go out to her and her family. You can rest in peace now lovely, no more fighting, enjoy the peace, I love you"

Tahnee Atkinson, winner of ANTM season 5, wrote: "Devastated to hear the news. Your [sic] hilarious and caring nature towards others will be sorley [sic] missed. I'm thankful to have known you Charlotte. May you rest in paradise safe from any harm."

Ashley Pogmore, a contestant on ANTM season 8, wrote: Char wasn't just a Judge for all of us top Model girls she was like our mumma away from home she was there when we needed advice."

An Instagram account has been set up entitled RIP Charlotte Dawson.

Chic Management, which represented Dawson until three months ago, released a statement in reaction to the news.

"The directors and team at Chic Celebrity are deeply saddened by the news of the death of Charlotte Dawson today.

Charlotte was a hard working and talented presenter and host who also became a strong advocate in relation to a number of modern social issues.

Charlotte was a generous and passionate supporter of a number of key charities and will be remembered as an intelligent, enthusiastic and energetic woman.

The Chic team wish to express their sincere condolences to Charlotte's family and friends."

For help call Lifeline on 131 114 or visit beyondblue.org.au.

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