Brisbane - Former Wallaby winger Ben Tune has told of his suicide attempt from a drug overdose in 2009 that ultimately turned his life around and helped him overcome chronic depression.
Tune, a member of the 1999 Wallabies that won the Rugby World Cup, came forward last week after the recent suicide deaths of three National Rugby League-contracted players.
The Sunday Mail in Brisbane said when Tune, who retired in 2007, heard of the death of young North Queensland Cowboys hooker Alex Elisala last month, he contacted the newspaper wanting to tell his story.
"Four years ago, almost to the day, I sat alone in my apartment and decided to end my life. It was a decision that ultimately made me a better man," the 36-year-old Tune told the newspaper. "This is a serious problem that no one wants to talk about. No one, no matter how strong the person is, can beat this illness on their own."
In his first-person story for the newspaper, Tune wrote that he's been despressed for over a year and started stockpiling "what I needed to kill myself."
"I prepared my final instructions to my parents and my brothers; and I wrote three separate letters to my three boys to read when their mum deemed them old enough, and finally compiled an iTunes "farewell" song list."
"On what I thought was the last night of my life, I took the three pictures of my beautiful boys out of their frames and sat resolutely on the couch. Hugging my kids' pictures, I ingested a potentially lethal dose of pills and chased it down with a bottle of bourbon."
He said he estimated he only had 20 minutes until he lost consciousness so he sent a text message to his girlfriend at the time and "apologised for turning her life upside down."
"For the next 10 minutes, haunted by my past and indifferent about my future, I sat on my couch ... and with tears rolling down my cheeks, I waited for death to greet me. It never did."
Tune said doctors don't know how he survived, and that after his attempt on his life, he spent a month in a psychiatric hospital and under a suicide watch.
"It was the start of a grueling, thankless road to self-discovery that involved hundreds of hours of cognitive behaviour therapy and thousands of dollars spent on doctors, tests and medication," Tune wrote. "It is five years down the track and I can honestly say only the last year has been one filled with anything coming close to happiness."
"In my insanity I managed to destroy my marriage, lose every cent I ever earned, tarnish my reputation, push away many friendships and, worst of all, I had totally eroded any self-respect I had ever garnered. But I can honestly say I am now a relatively content man, who can actually get excited about a future I never thought I'd have."
Tune scored 24 tries in 46 Tests for Australia, including one in the Wallabies' 35-12 win over France in the World Cup final in 1999.