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Oscar Pistorius described as ‘on verge of suicide’ as lawyers seek reduced bail terms [UPDATE: Family disputes 'suicidal' description]

Jay Busbee
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Oscar Pistorius. (Getty Images)

Oscar Pistorius is "on the verge of suicide," a close friend says, even as his attorneys are seeking lighter bail terms that would allow Pistorius to travel. [UPDATE: The Pistorius family has taken issue with that characterization. See below.]

Pistorius, free on bail but charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, is the subject of a new BBC3 documentary, "Oscar Pistorius: What Really Happened." Pistorius maintains that he shot Steenkamp by accident, but South African police believe he intentionally killed her in the course of a heated argument.

[Related: Oscar Pistorius' lawyers appeal bail conditions]

In the course of the BBC3 documentary, Pistorius family friend Mike Azzie has some dire words about the Olympic and Paralympic star: "I would say that, just speaking to him, that he is a broken man and that I would go as far to say that he would be on the verge of suicide. It really worries me."

Azzie also notes that Pistorius continues to speak of Steenkamp, asking friends to pray for her and her family. But there's no force behind his words: "He has no confidence in his tone of voice," Azzie says. "He is just a man that is almost like someone that is walking around in circles and doesn't know where he is going."

Meanwhile, Pistorius' lawyers have filed a request with the court to ease the bail restrictions on Pistorius, allowing him to travel outside the country with appropriate permission. They maintain that he is not a flight risk and should be allowed to travel.

Pistorius' legal bills are mounting; local reports indicate that he has had to sell racehorses to pay legal bills. Police are reportedly not interested in striking a plea bargain deal with Pistorius' lawyers for any lesser charges.

UPDATE: In response to Azzie's words, Pistorius' family has released a statement denying that he is suicidal. Pistorius "is in deep mourning but despite the tragic circumstances he is certainly not suicidal," said his uncle Arnold Pistorius.

"From the moment we were first informed about the dreadful event of the early morning of 14 February 2013, we have worked hard to come to terms with the sad news of Reeva Steenkamp's death and Oscar's role in it," the statement read. "Oscar, broken as he currently is, believes he has a purpose in life and is working towards that."

-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-

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