After a 15-year battle with depression, SANFL football legend Alan Stringer overcame his mental demons.
Now, he will speak at a free event to be held at the Central Oval Complex on Thursday, October 17. The event, sponsored by Sundrop Farms, is presented by the three Port Augusta football clubs and is open to the community.
"Football clubs and sporting clubs in general have a captive audience to which we can address this issue," South Augusta Football Club president Mick Kerin said.
"Unfortunately we probably all know of people who have lost their personal battles.
"We saw this event as a chance for the three clubs to promote community awareness and benefit from this exposure to a high profile ex-footballer and his honest experiences of his 15-year battle."
Stringer was born in Snowtown and was raised on a farm in Koolunga in the Mid North. He played 25 SANFL games for North Adelaide, before transferring to Glenelg in 1983 where he played a further 145 games under Graham Campbell and Graham Cornes.
Stringer played in 20 finals and is described as a centre man, who was hard and ferocious at the ball. He also had a rich family life, fathering three sons. Despite all this, the back-to-back premiership winner described his life as "spiralling out of control". "I was in such a bad way for a long time. I was sick - mentally and physically for a long time," Stringer said.
"I battled depression for 15 years, 15 years of my life spiralling out of control contemplating suicide, disconnecting from sons, friends, family and society. Became a recluse.
"Feelings of loss and despair, turned to alcohol, behaved in a manner I'm not proud, of underwent shock treatment, but that didn't work for me. This disease makes into in someone you're not."
In the midst of his darkest days Stringer found himself "saved" by an old football adversary, Scott Hodges.
"I read Scott Hodges book, finally found a medical psychiatrist, I could connect with to with, and a mental health worker," he said. "There are still some deep scars that won't heal overnight, but I'm hoping we'll eventually get there. "The journey I've been on, well, who ever said life was not meant to be easy, he got it spot on."
Stringer is now on focusing on mending his relationship with his sons and spreading the message about mental illness. Kerin hopes people will come to the event and find a connection with Stringer's story. "Alan is a country boy from the mid north so he is very relatable with country regions such as Port Augusta," he said.
"Having read and listened to Alan`s story his bravery and honesty in re-telling it stands out. He was in such a bad way for such a long time and eventually found the ongoing help he needed.
"If by attending this event we can help just one person from our community then it will be a worthwhile exercise by the clubs."