Audrey Fagan dead

johnboy 23 April 2007 119

I have this from two sources. The ACT’s Chief Police Officer, Audrey Fagan, is dead.

No further details at this time.

UPDATED: Radio reports on the ABC say it was while on holiday and “no suspicious circumstances”.

Further Update: Jon Stanhope has put out a media release which praises CPO Fagan but offers no insight into her demise. It’s early days but one begins to wonder about the dancing around the cause of death.

The AFP’s media release is now also available.

Another update: Mainstream media has finally caught up and a plethora of sources are on this story.

A thought: This is the same Queensland Police Force that can happily declare “no suspicious circumstances” when Aborigines are murdered in police cells. I don’t see how much short of a royal commission can be avoided here.

MORE: Simon Corbell got a media release online late last night it indicates that Deputy Chief Police Officer Shane Connelly will continue as Acting Chief Police Officer.

And again: The Canberra Times has bestirred itself to put the story on its website.

Big news: The SMH finally has some details:

“It is believed the mother-of-one died by hanging. Queensland police said there were no suspicious circumstances.

Yesterday, AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty would not confirm the death of the 26-year police veteran was a suicide. He said Ms Fagan had been burdened by media criticism of poor police media management, and recently undertook professional support for stress.

“Clearly, she felt the pressure of the campaign of the criticism over the last couple of weeks,” he said.”

Can anyone suggest a circumstance in which it is not either; suicide, or suspicious? I also note the serious boot being laid into the Canberra Times (and possibly us I suppose). I would suggest that if the CPO was tipped over the edge by a call for more media access then Mr Keelty needs to be looking seriously at the support and resources his organisation was providing her with. Either way there needs to be a major inquiry.

CT Overload: The Canberra Times is going wall to wall on this today. Most of the stories say the same thing over and over because, at the end of the day, very little is known. So there are stories here, here, here, and here.

More significantly the CT Editor in Chief, Jack Waterford has damned with faint praise before going on to defend his past criticisms.

Monday update: The Brisbane Times is claiming that two notes have been found.


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119 Responses to Audrey Fagan dead
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sultain of swing sultain of swing 4:34 am 25 Apr 07

I have a feeling that Onlooker is none other than Beyond Blue Patron Jeff Kennett.

But he/she makes a good point. I doubt any of us really understand depression. Each one of us has a different psychological make up. For Audrey Fagan, perhaps she developed a heightened sensitivity to crtisism, one that was finally enough to drive her to suicide. I don’t think such sensitivity with such acute consequences would exist in many people. Therefore, I maintain that whether right or wrong, Waterford should not be blamed for Fagan’s suicide. He may have wished to publicly bash her in the media or had a personal reason to attack her and hurt her. But doubt even he could have foreseen such a sad outcome.

Onlooker Onlooker 3:07 am 25 Apr 07

There has been a disappointing amount of judgmental and bigoted nonsense posted here following the tragic death of Audrey Fagan. Some attempt to better understand the nature of depression would be one positive response to this tragedy. Many of us will experience depression either personally or because a family member or friend will develop it. The beyondblue website http://www.beyondblue.org.au/ contains some personal stories from people who have experienced depression and made suicide attempts. It also has some good stuff on recognizing symptoms and on caring for people with depression.

There has been much discussion about the rights and wrongs of the criticisms of the ACT Police by Jack Waterford in the Canberra Times. I note on the beyondblue website that one of the common symptoms, as opposed to causes, of depression, is an increased sensitivity to criticism.

The point is well made that it is Governments and not Public Servants who should be held publicly accountable. I can’t comment specifically on the tenor of Jack Waterford’s calls for greater accountability in the AFP as I gave up reading the Canberra Times a long time ago but in general, much of what passes as political comment or critical assessment degenerates into personal attacks and we are all the poorer for that.

bigred bigred 5:46 pm 24 Apr 07

terry-wrist, I doubt it was a terminal illness but was illustrating the point that we should not speculate about the causes, we just don’t know nor never really will I suspect. Not sure we need to either.

Special G your comments are typical of someone in denial. Suggest you try to introduce some balance to your thoughts on this.

terry_wrist terry_wrist 5:09 pm 24 Apr 07

bigred: if it were a terminal illness, then that’s euthanasia… not suicide. And she did not seem to be at a point where she would choose euthanasia. If I were diagnosed with a terminal illness, I would resign my job and spend every possible minute enjoying my final weeks. I would not hang my self and cause a whole heap of pain for my family.

I do agree with you other points however.

Maelinar Maelinar 12:32 pm 24 Apr 07

Tagline : I knew Audrey on quite a personal level as i was her hairdresser for many years Comment by Boeb2007 — April, 2007

Special G Special G 10:30 am 24 Apr 07

Where did you get the idea that there was SIGNIFICANT diquiet within the community. It was discussed earlier about attitude towards Police surveys and from my understanding the ACT public is rather happy with the AFP. Above the national average. I would not call that significant disquiet.

What you’re spouting is the media’s (read Waterford)disquiet with the Police. This has been brought about by breach of confidance, privacy laws and the like. Gone are the days when the journos can waltz into any station and read the daily jobs. Sorry the world just doesn’t work like that anymore.

Boeb2007 Boeb2007 7:27 am 24 Apr 07

I knew Audrey on quite a personal level as i was her hairdresser for many years. She was a beautiful person with a lovely manner and a gentle soul and she will be deeply missed. Her commitment to the people of the ACT should be remembered and embraced and she should not be rememeber for the way in which she left us.. Good people die everyday and the world will be a sader place with the loss of Audrey. May she rest in peace and may her family find closure and peace as time goes by.

vandam vandam 12:13 am 24 Apr 07

In terms of Policing in the ACT, yes they are under resourced, yes they don’t get enough support, yes they don’t have the number of people to do the job properly. However My problem is that when people complain about the Police they complain in general. Thats not fair. There are a lot of hard working cops out there just doing their job, like anyone else. They don’t deserve to be treated the way they do, however generalisation is a bitch. Rather than bag the Police in general, how about people complain where the problem is, ie management, government funding etc etc. The poor guys who constantly have their arses hanging out with paperwork don’t deserve the public disaproval of them. I say support the guys on the ground and address the issues to those it involves.

teddy bear teddy bear 11:59 pm 23 Apr 07

I think Johnboy has provided fair and balanced comment in this thread and I don’t agree with the criticism he has received from some contributors.

Audrey Fagan was a terrific person and her death came as a great shock to those close to her. There was no sign of a problem at a BBQ she and her family attended at close friend’s house on the Easter Monday before her holiday. Her death seemed entirely out of character and her friends still cannot believe what has happened.

It just goes to show that we need to be aware that this can happen at any time to one of our close friends without any particular warning signs.

I do not feel that Jack Waterford’s articles were the cause of the tragedy, although I don’t think it was appropriate for him to have said some things, particularly after Audrey’s death. He took the same defensive stance he accused the police media of.

My gut feeling is that the CPO succumbed to a number of issues of which the “bully-boy culture” within the police force was one. This culture (which we have seen some evidence of on this website in the orange light issue) was one of the things she was trying to change. She obviously needed more support in achieving this.

But years of exposure to the crims, the mentally ill, the ratbags and the idiots has so hardened many in the force that they seemed to have lost the ability to relate to the community in general. The term “community policing” was rapidly becoming an oxymoron. This, I feel, was what was driving Jack Waterford’s articles.

I am extremely saddened by Audrey Fagan’s passing. She had much to contribute to family, friends and the community in general and her death is such a waste. The task now is for her friends to rally around her family.

bigred bigred 10:00 pm 23 Apr 07

Audrey Fagan is dead and it seems she took her own life. A human mind is a cxomplex thing and the decision to take such a dramatic step my have been triggered by a single event or a combination of circumstances. Who knows what triggered it. Maybe she had just been told she had a terminal illness or that hubby wanted to trade her in on a younger model. Maybe Keelty had told her she was to be replaced. Maybe there was further bad news coming. Maybe it was that the whole lot was too much. Maybe …!

As far as Jack Waterford’s reporting goes. What is the problem with the senior journo at the local rag asking some serious questions of an organisation that has created significant disquiet amongst the community it is meant to serve?

If the demise of the CPO was caused by the pressure that is a tragedy. But don’t blame community questioning for the incident. After all, when this is all forgotten the AFP will continue to provide its variable service levels and the people will continue to be disappointed.

terry_wrist terry_wrist 9:51 pm 23 Apr 07

Special G: That is too general. He can say both. When he calls the AFP corrupt, he is referring to certain elements within the AFP, just as when he compliments them. They can theoretically be corrupt and do a great job at the same time.

When you say that he should have some consistency in his views. Are you saying he should either call the AFP Corrupt incompetents or a perfect force. I doesn’t work like that. We may want the latter, but it is possible to be both.

With regards to the implications of her suicide. Her committing suicide does not imply in itself corruption, incompetence, mismanagement or psych problems. But I do think that when you look at Audrey Fagan, a seemingly strong and dedicated woman. On e or more of those things must have being a factor in tipping her over the edge. I strongly doubt corruption.

Whatever the reason though, I too believe their is no justification for suicide.

Special G Special G 9:03 pm 23 Apr 07

The supporting arguement to my comments about Waterfords comments are published by him. One minute he is saying the Police are doing a great job the next they are corrupt.

Under funding and resources are designated by the ACT government funding to purchase Policing in the ACT. I spoke with a number of politicians about Police numbers prior to the last election. Both sides were spouting an additional 120-150 police to bring ACT at least up to the national average. Several weeks after the election the ACT scores itself an extra 20. He can comment on what he sees. Some consistency with his views would be better,

I agree with Ingeegoodbee about suicide. There is no justification for it. In relation to Audrey Fagan it is sad that she felt that it was her only option rather than quit the job and do anything else with herself.

One persons decision to end their own life doesn’t imply mismanagement, corruption or psych problems across the police force.

terry_wrist terry_wrist 8:08 pm 23 Apr 07

Special G: anyone who comes on here and without any supporting comments or evidence, calls Jack Waterford an arse is more a troll than I am.

DJ: I know I should go a bit more easy on the Police and not tell them how to do there jobs. But when I have seen what I have seen and had to put up with ineffective policing on so many occasions, I feel as a tax payer I have some rights to put in my two cents. I don’t think their purely lazy. They are mismanaged, under funded and under resourced. They deserve more.

Oh an Special G: lay off Jack Waterford. I don’t much like him, but fairs fair. He was just doing his job, commenting on what he sore as wrong with the AFP. Maybe he was too harsh? But look at former NSW Police Commissioner Ryan. He copped much more flak than Audrey Fagan ever did and he didn’t commit suicide.

Maelinar Maelinar 7:37 pm 23 Apr 07

Only need to do a rudimentary internet troll to find out that there was an investigation into improper conduct involving builders and cheap rates only just completed recently.

Keelty might want to reconsider his own involvement in the ensuing events.

DJ DJ 6:45 pm 23 Apr 07

“do I hear calls to cut journalistic freedom”…

No. But don’t let the truth get in the way of Jacks lies and deceitful stories. Integrity…. ever heard of it? The other journos at CT must be shuddering.

Hey Terry, lighten up on the wrist or you’ll go blind. Don’t tell the Police how to do their jobs – do they come into your workplace and tell you how to sweep up?

Ingeegoodbee Ingeegoodbee 6:42 pm 23 Apr 07

Forget trying to figure out why she did it – it’s pointless. Suicide is an inherrantly selfish act, wasting time speculating about it simply implies there could be a justification, there isn’t, forget her.

Special G Special G 6:26 pm 23 Apr 07

Who is Terry_wrist – where the hell did you come from spoutnig attitude. You are coming off like a troll.

JB – You seem to have a bit of an axe to grind on this one. You’re spouting about corruption, moral, and extensive psych problems throughout ACT police with not alot of backing to your arguement. You will need to come up with better than that.

Jack Waterfords an arse. He does more backflips than a chinese acrobat and throws more tantrums than a 2 year old when he doesn’t get what he wants.

terry_wrist terry_wrist 6:14 pm 23 Apr 07

I think on the list of contributing factors that may have pushed Audrey Fagan to take her own life. The media would be in the middle. Let us not forget that she was a cop for some 25 years. Over that time, a person experience a lot and she shouldn’t have been new to the often sour words of the media.

No, the media is not to blame, certainly not the media alone. Jack Waterford… bit of a dweeb yes… but not a cause to kill your self.

I think internal pressure (KEELTY!!!) is to blame. Keelty is a cold character. Given the chance, he probably would’ve packed the rope and gallows himself.

Oh, and someone said Fagan was a “pen pusher”. No way. She was far from it. A pen pusher is a lazy and ineffective administrator. Fagan was ineffective, but I truly believe she was doing her best. But as a manager, her best was not good enough.

jgangsta jgangsta 4:47 pm 23 Apr 07

by the way, there were press releases out at the time of the rapes in lyneham and macquarie…of course, i’m not sure it (the media) would’ve been the cause for suicide, but wouldn’t have helped.

terry_wrist terry_wrist 4:25 pm 23 Apr 07

JamesM: if the police were more open, people wouldn’t always assume that an “indecent assault” is really police talk for rape. They really would believe it was just an assault. But the AFP mutilate stories so much to downplay them and not “scare the public” that may always think the smaller offense is just covering a bigger offence.

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