John Brogden spent his life working to become Premier of NSW – until a colossal fall from grace and a very public suicide attempt changed his life and priorities forever. Ahead of a visit to Adelaide, he talks to InDaily about his recovery, and his zeal to change public discourse around mental illness.
“From as early as I can remember, I only ever wanted to do one thing, and that was to be Premier of New South Wales.”
John Brogden’s lifelong dream came crashing down, almost literally, overnight.
One day he was riding high in the opinion polls, seemingly months from leading the Liberal Opposition out of the wilderness against a flailing Labor Government.
But his actions on a booze-fuelled night brought that ambition unstuck. The nation was temporarily transfixed by a political fall so spectacular and sudden; and for Brogden, there appeared no way forward.
John Brogden (Photo: article supplied)
Three weeks after he strode into Sydney’s Hilton Hotel brimming with confidence and euphoria, the no-longer Leader of the Opposition found himself “sitting in a suicide watch ward at a mental health clinic with bandages on my wrists”.
“I remember talking to my doctor, saying, ‘My God – what do I do now? Everything I wanted is now gone.’
“He said, ‘John… things will get better.’
“And I thought, ‘Why are you teasing me? Everything’s crushed!’
“But he was right. Things did get better.”
And given his profile, and the intensity of the media glare, it was perhaps inevitable that John Brogden’s suicide attempt ultimately became one of the driving, defining moments of his life.