AFL community reaches out to support James Hird

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    AFL figures have shown support for James Hird amid reports the former Essendon coach is in a mental health facility recovering from a suspected overdose.

    Former Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett, chair of mental health group Beyond Blue, said it appeared Hird needed help.

    “Assuming these stories have a basis of fact, this is a cry for help by an individual and I hope that he will get that help,” Kennett told SEN radio on Friday.

    Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley did not reference Hird directly but took to Twitter to urge the public against personally attacking sportspeople.

    “The presumption that people who play sport well are bullet proof allows personal attacks hidden behind ‘public interest’,” Buckley tweeted.

    “Keep us honest and critically analyse professional efforts but allow clubs to manage and support people in their brilliance and foibles.”

    Former North Melbourne player Wayne Schwass, a mental health campaigner, slammed media coverage as insensitive, particularly news outlets stationed outside Hird’s Melbourne home.

    “Irrespective of what side you sit w/ Ess saga, health & wellbeing of a person should override everything. Were talking about someone’s life,” he tweeted.

    “Shows total lack of understanding of the seriousness of MH issues & sensitive required when reporting them.”

    The 43-year-old Hird was taken to Cabrini Hospital in Melbourne’s south after an “intentional poisoning overdose”, the Seven Network reported.

    Hird left the hospital on Thursday and the Herald Sun reported he was transferred to a mental health centre where he was still receiving care.

    Hird resigned as Essendon coach in August 2015 with his reputation irreparably damaged by the club’s supplements saga.

    His tenure as coach was thrown into turmoil by the 2012 supplements program and subsequent Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority investigation, which led to 34 past and present Bombers being banned for the 2016 season.

    Before the supplements saga, Hird had been one of Windy Hill’s most-treasured sons, playing 253 games for Essendon and winning the Brownlow Medal in 1996.

    Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

    MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.

    © AAP 2017

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