Online abuse of James Hird sickening: Devonport Strikers captain

CLOSE TO HOME: Devonport's Brayden Mann said he felt close to the James Hird health scare with experience in social media abuse. Picture: Brodie Weeding.

CLOSE TO HOME: Devonport’s Brayden Mann said he felt close to the James Hird health scare with experience in social media abuse. Picture: Brodie Weeding.

DEVONPORT Strikers captain Brayden Mann admitted he has experienced first-hand the impact of online abuse and could relate to the recent health scare of one of his sporting idols. 

James Hird was hospitalised on Wednesday night reportedly following an overdose believed to be brought on from the turmoil he suffered during the Essendon supplements saga.  

The news brought with it more online abuse towards the former Bombers coach and Mann said having experienced the impact of online abuse, it made him sick to see it. 

… you don’t need to joke about it, someone’s life was almost lost. – Brayden Mann

“I’ve been pretty close to that stage and it’s a scary thing and it’s pretty lonely,” Mann said. 

The Strikers captain said he wasn’t really shocked when he heard the news and it was sad to see a legend of the game breaking down. 

“I think when someone goes through something that he’s been through it didn’t surprise me, with the scrutiny with the media and the abuse from people in the football world,” he said.

“In a way he’s had the thing that he loves taken away from him.

“A lot of people don’t agree with what he did or what the football club did as a whole but it’s a pretty harsh thing for him to take the blame all the time.

“He’s obviously copped a lot and he’s tried to deal with it and it’s a sad thing it has come down to this.” 

Mann said he shared an understanding of having to deal with the online world.

“That’s the thing with social media, people think they can say what they want and there’s no accountability.

“I don’t think they realise that people do see it and I don’t think they would be doing it if it was one of their family members because they would understand.

“I know it was an overdose but it’s the same thing, you don’t need to joke about it, someone’s life was almost lost.”

Mann opened up about his battles with mental health and having to deal with abuse.

“When I was playing for South Hobart someone set up a Facebook group that was abusing me and then there was a Twitter account doing the same.

“Even now I still deal with it, it’s not something you get over quickly.”

He said he felt he could relate to Hird’s health scare and implored people to think about the impact they could be having.  

“I suppose I can relate to it a bit more, I wouldn’t say I know exactly what he’s feeling because I don’t.

“But that’s when you need some really good people around you and hopefully he gets the support that he needs and can come back from this.

“Part of the reason we never grow in terms of mental health and understanding is because people don’t want to understand it.”

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