An inquest into the 2007 death of former Channel TEN Newsreader Charmaine Dragun has heard she was a rising star within the network, with “everything to live for” and a wide circle of friends, a supportive family and a loving partner.
But Dragun, 29, had been battling a depression for ten years and changed anti-depressants three weeks before she leapt from a cliff at The Gap at Watsons Bay, in Sydney’s east.
Factors that may have led to her death are now being examined at a two-week inquest at Glebe Coroner’s Court, with the objective being to help avoid further tragedies, rather than attribute blame.
Attending the inquest were her family and partner Simon Struthers – whom she planned to marry on her 30th birthday.
David Hirsch, counsel assisting the coroner, said that behind her perfect exterior was a deep and troubling issue.
“Charmaine would have wanted – and her parents do want – this inquest to have one overarching purpose … to help other people who are suffering from depressive illness,” he said.
He said one of the main questions the inquest will consider is whether Dragun deliberately jumped from the cliff top or whether she was in a drug-induced “psychotic state” at the time and unaware of her actions.
The inquest will hear evidence from Dragun’s former colleagues at TEN as well as her mother and partner while extracts from her diaries, emails and text messages will also be read.
Prior to her death, Dragun had moved to Sydney from Perth, where she read the Perth’s TEN News bulletin from the network’s Pyrmont studios alongside Tim Webster, and occasionally read the national news. TEN later relocated the Perth bulletin back to Perth, which it claims it had been planning.
The life and death of Charmaine Dragun was also the subject of an episode of Australian Story on the ABC.