The wife of AFL great Danny Frawley has revealed he was suffering from the neurodegenerative disease when he died.
The Herald Sun revealed the diagnosis in an exclusive on Monday night as Frawley's widow Anita revealed the presence of CTE - chronic traumatic encephalopathy - in the 56-year-old's brain.
CTE can only be diagnosed by brain examination after death. It has been described as "a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma".
"His mental health battles, and his strong advocacy for mental health issues, were well known," Anita is quoted as saying.
"As his wife for over 30 years, I strongly suspected there was more going on with Danny than straightforward depression."
The family would not address the issue again until the release of the coroner's report, she said.
Frawley, the former St Kilda captain and Richmond coach, died in September last year when the car he was driving struck a tree about 2km from Ballarat.
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Frawley was a St Kilda champion who played 240 games, including nine seasons as captain, before he coached Richmond Tigers between 2000 and 2004.
He went on to become a deeply admired member of the Fox Footy team and was a passionate advocate for mental health wellbeing.
Days after his death, Mrs Frawley spoke of her husband's mental health deterioration.
"As is widely known, Danny had experienced and lived with depression dating back a number of years," Mrs Frawley said.
"But to his credit, he had put up his hand and accepted psychiatric treatment, counselling and medication. He recovered and returned to being the Danny of old.
"The road leading up to last Monday's events began 8 months ago when Danny made the decision to take himself off his prescribed medication."
Mrs Frawley said "a bullet proof" Danny had removed himself from his psychiatric care and had stopped working with his team of mental health professionals.
"At this point Danny felt invincible, like the true competitor and proud man that he was; he felt that he had beaten the disease," she said.
"The reason I am making this public is that I want this to be a reminder to all those grappling with mental health conditions and to those whom have made progress with their well-being.
"You should always seek help from professionals when considering making decisions surrounding your mental health, even when you feel as though you have fully recovered."