She was a former model, fashion journalist, media personality. She was a campaigner for the bullied and the sick, and wasn’t afraid to stand up even to those who bullied her.
But Charlotte Dawson struggled with depression. She was upfront about the issue, and wrote about it in her tell-all book Air Kiss And Tell.
Dawson, 47, was found dead in her Sydney home on Saturday after she took her own life.
In 2012, she was hospitalised following a suicide attempt after she was bombarded with vicious Twitter messages.
The cyber-bullying of Dawson began when she confronted a Melbourne woman about abusive posts directed at her and a Melbourne follower who had lost her partner to suicide.
After Dawson, who was an ambassador for the Australian anti-bullying program Community Brave, appeared on the Nine Network’s A Current Affair, the cyber-bullying directed at her snowballed.
Twitter trolls unleashed more than 100 messages of abuse, many of which included four-letter words.
Despite the attacks and her consequent suicide attempt, Dawson did not shirk the limelight, or quit Twitter.
“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***k off,” she told Fairfax Media at the time.
“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.”
Instead she stepped up her lobbying efforts for Twitter trolls to be dealt with.
Most recently, she became an outspoken campaigner for better funding for cancer treatment.
Her last tweets were on the subject. “We have the hospitals/resources & the doctors & professors willing to help. Where is the govt support?”
While she was still a regular on programs like the Nine Network’s Morning Show, she was also developing a homewares range after a recent holiday in Bali.
Dawson left New Zealand at the age of 16 and began an international modelling career that lasted a decade, before moving to Australia.
She began her media career as a fashion journalist for the Nine Network, and report for the Today Show for five years.
She was also Fashion and Beauty Director of Woman’s Day magazine, and later took up a similar position at New Idea.
She also worked for the Ten Network, appeared on Seven and was until recently a judge on Australia’s Next Top Model for Foxtel.
She also appeared on New Zealand television in the 2000s.
After her high-profile split from Olympic swimmer Scott Miller, she returned to her native New Zealand, but came back to Australia in 2007.
She had described her native New Zealand as “small, nasty and vindictive”, and recently advised singer Lorde to leave the country.
“@LorenzoSchofer @nzherald I’m not an Australian. I choose to live here because in my job I’m subjected to the bully culture of NZ MSM,” she tweeted last year.
Although her Twitter fights, depression battle and high-profile television appearances are what the public remember her for, her many friends have other memories.
Friend and Daily Telegraph journalist Taylor Auerbach wrote on Saturday, hours after her death, “her heart was made of something very rare”.
Radio personalties Kyle and Jackie O tweeted “Heartbroken to hear news that Charlotte Dawson has died. In shock right now. U will always have a special place in our hearts Charlotte. RIP.”
Others remembered her vivacity, tenacity, charm and determination. And for being a great friend, including designer Alex Perry.
“WE LOST A BEAUTIFUL, BRIGHT, SHINING GIRL TODAY… REST IN PEACE MY SWEETHEART…I LOVE YOU. X”
For help or information on depression and suicide:
• Lifeline: 13 11 14
• Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
• MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78
• Beyondblue support service: 1300 22 4636
• Lifeline: 13 11 14
• SANE Australia Helpline 1800 18 SANE (7263)