Wayne Westner's daughter speaks for the first time about father's death: 'If only he had reached out'

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Chane Todd
Chane Todd
Photo: Supplied by Leap Communications
  • Golf champion Wayne Westner died by suicide in 2017. The 55-year-old shot himself following an incident at the family's home in Pennington, KwaZulu-Natal.
  • In a letter to his family, Wayne wrote that negative thoughts and emotions consumed him. 
  • Daughter Chane Todd, who is a Mrs South Africa 2021 semi-finalist, has spoken about his death for the first time, saying: "It's excruciating to think that such a successful man was fighting such deep demons."

Mrs South Africa 2021 semi-finalist Chane Todd, whose golf champion father died by suicide four years ago, has spoken out for the first time about the agonising ordeal in a bid to help break the stigma around mental illness. She urges those struggling with stress, anxiety and depression to reach out for help immediately.

Once one of the country's most prominent athletes, Wayne won 14 professional tournaments, including two on the European Tour. He was ranked as high as 40th in the world during the 1990s. 

Mother, entrepreneur and social activist Chane, 31, has broken her silence about her world-famous father Wayne Westner's death. The 55-year-old golf champion shot himself following an incident at the family's home in Pennington, KwaZulu-Natal in 2017. 

"My father was a champion both on and off the golf course. It's excruciating to think that such a successful man was fighting such deep demons. This is how powerful mental illness is. It can affect anyone. My dad's passing broke our hearts, and I don't want other families to go through the same thing," she says.

"Had he sought help, things may have been different. When depression overcomes us, we may feel vulnerable with no way out. We simply must seek professional help immediately. Reaching out may not only save lives but could also be life-changing for the better," she says.

"We're living isolated lives due to the pandemic. It affects us all emotionally and mentally. We must invest in self-love and self-care, especially during these times. This includes sharing our struggles with friends and family and taking the best possible care of our own health."

In a letter to his family, Wayne wrote that he was consumed by negative thoughts and emotions. "If only he had reached out. There is a stigma associated with depression and poor mental health. I desperately want to help break the stigma and get people talking about this disease which affects around one in six South Africans.

"My dad's family had a history of mental illness, but we were unaware of the severity of his condition. He told us he was managing when in fact, he had slipped into a deep depression and was contemplating ending his life. His mental well-being was no longer at the top of his mind. We realised this when it was too late," she says. 

Chane, who will compete for the Mrs SA title later this year, urges the public to talk about mental well-being and to seek help from groups such as the SA Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) by calling 0800 567 567 or (011) 234 4837 or asking a mental health professional for help.

"Asking for help can save lives. I urge the public struggling with this illness to reach out now!" she says.

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