SAS star Simone Holtznagel's heartbreaking confession before leaving show

Content warning: This story discusses mental health and suicide.

SAS Australia star Simone Holtznagel made a heartbreaking confession on the show, breaking down as she opened up about the horrible moment she had to identify the body of her late friend, Charlotte Dawson.

The model, who was one of 14 recruits remaining during Monday's episode, had a panic attack as she recalled the tragic events after losing her friend to suicide to the Directing Staff.

Simone broke down on SAS
Simone broke down on SAS as she recalled the death of her late friend, Charlotte Dawson. Photo: Channel 7

It came after the first task, which saw recruits leap from a speeding boat to a helicopter. While some missed the target, smashing straight into the water, others felt elation on making it into the chopper.

Simone was interrogated by the DS after they noticed her unease in the task. There she explained her anxiety stems from the death of her friend and mentor, Charlotte, when Simone was just 20 years old.

“It has definitely played into how I am and how I go about my life as an adult,” said Simone.

Model Simone and Charlotte Dawson arrives at the 2011 Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Awards
Simone broke down over the tragic death of her friend and mentor, Charlotte, when Simone was just 20 years old. Photo: Getty

"I remember that moment, I just, collapsed to the ground," she said of when she heard the tragic news.

"I was asked to go and identify her body because her family was in New Zealand. It was something I never thought I'd have to do, especially at 20. I think about it now and I was so little, I was a baby."

Simone said after that she fell into a "dark period" where she was "drinking every day, barely getting out of bed".

"She wouldn’t want me to not live my life. She always had so much belief that I would go on and be this superstar," Simone added.

Later on in the episode, recruits then had to adopt a strong mindset when they were incapacitated by pepper spray and expected to carry out a task, in an exercise Ant described as “a whole f***ing world of pain”.

SAS Australia pepper spray task
During another task recruits were incapacitated by pepper spray. Photo: Channel 7
SAS Australia Simone holtznagel
The task proved too much for Simone and she chose to withdraw from the course. Photo: Channel 7

The crippling task proved too much for Simone and she chose to withdraw from the course.

“I’m disappointed I didn’t go out on more of a high but I’m really not huge on physical pain," Simone said afterwards.

The day ended with a surprise late night beasting, made even more brutal by Pauly’s late arrival to the parade square and inability to keep up, something he apologised to the other recruits for later.

During the episode, convicted drug dealer Richard Buttrose failed to follow instructions and the DS brought him in for questioning, where he revealed he’s doing the course as a last step of redemption.

“I didn’t take any short cuts in jail, I didn’t rat on anyone, I just f***ing took responsibility for everything I got caught with, pleaded guilty for everything I got caught with and did the time,” admitted Richard. “I believe everybody deserves a second chance.”

Mental health support for yourself or a loved one can be found by calling Lifeline on 13 11 14, Mensline on 1300 789 978, or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800. Online support is available via Beyond Blue.

SAS Australia continues 7.30pm Tuesday on Channel 7 and 7plus.

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