Vale Mark Priestley

Mood: Very Sad

I am incredibly saddened by the tragic passing of one of the finest actors Australia has to offer, Mark Priestley.

I am an avid SMH Online reader – mainly because things at work are a bit slow at the moment and reading SMH at my desk at least makes me appear more professional than petting my cyber puppy on Facebook. On my first visit to the SMH website today, I was greeted with the horrible headline screaming “All Saints star found dead“. Mark Priestley’s photo accompanied the headline, which made me want to read the story more.

The initial article (with a time stamp of 9.30am) didn’t say much – Mark was found dead last night after reportedly taking his own life. So I went in search of more information on the net and found a few other articles that did go on to say that Mark was reportedly suffering from depression, which may be the cause of his suicide.

Mark is one of my favourite Australian actors. Since 2004, he has been playing the role of nurse Dan Goldman in one of my favourite TV shows, All Saints. I’ve been a fan of Mark’s since 2001, when he appeared in the TV mini-series Changi. So you can imagine my delight when he joined the All Saints cast and quickly became one of the show’s favourites.

I have been keeping a keen eye on the news all morning to find out more about the circumstances surrounding Mark’s death. Each article I read reported Mark was suffering from depression. And then, in the last hour or so, the news outlets started reporting that Mark’s body was found last night on an awning of a building in Market Street in Sydney CBD, and that police were not treating the death as suspicious (the SMH link above was updated at around 1pm today to include more information relating to the tragedy).

A Seven Network spokesperson has since confirmed Mark took his own life.

I can’t explain why I’m so upset, nor why I’ve been on the verge of tears all day. I have never met Mark Priestley, but I am an admirer of his work and in my opinion a great actor whose brilliant portrayal of a TV character was one of the reasons I remain a loyal fan of All Saints. My heart goes out to his colleagues who all must be wondering why and if they could have done anything to change the outcome.

Depression is such a complex condition. Outwardly, you can appear to be a normal person without a worry in the world. Mark Priestley appeared to have the world at his feet – a talented performer with good looks and a ready smile, a job as a permanent cast member on an acclaimed TV series, a young man of 32 who had just celebrated his birthday with his whole life ahead of him. As a fan noted on a tribute page on Facebook, Mark was recently seen in Newtown looking happy and enjoying a meal.

But appearances can be deceiving. After reading the many news articles today, I can only assume that Mark was gripped by depression so severe that he took his own life. I can only assume that Mark thought the only way he could escape the suffering and end the pain was to leave this world. I sincerely hope that he has found the peace he craved but could not find when he was alive.

My deepest condolences to his family. I can’t imagine what it feels like to lose someone to suicide. So many questions left unanswered; a sad gaping hole forever in the hearts of everyone he touched.

As written by Eric Clapton: “Beyond the door, there’s peace I’m sure. And I know there’ll be no more… tears in heaven.”

Rest In Peace, Mark Priestley. Thank you for your gifted contributions to the entertainment industry. The world is a much less entertaining place without you.


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