Jazz’s story: Why I wanted to die when I was 12
"As a 12-year-old I made a decision no 12-year-old should ever make. I made a decision to take my own life.''
Jazz Thornton's story could have ended there - or at any of the 14 times she determined she was better off dead.
Sexually abused at the age of three, she still remembers the feeling of shame.
At 7, she was taunted at school as she climbed the monkey bars.
"No one is going to want to touch those now because no-one wants your disease.''
In a video promoting her incredible documentary, The Girl on a Bridge, the rawness of being taunted comes through as the 25-year-old New Zealander tells her story.
Across Australia more than 3000 people a year take their life each year.
To put that in perspective, fewer than 900 people have died from coronavirus in this country.
Each day, our hospitals are revolving doors with people battling mental illness.
There simply aren't enough resources or people to deal with the problem.
Jazz Thornton knows that situation all too well.
Jazz credits a police officer with saving her life and family and friends for getting from surviving to fighting.
Jazz spent years in and out of psychiatric wards, running from police, living from house to house, and was left homeless after losing a job because of her mental illness.
"I just wanted the pain to stop. I genuinely thought the world would be better off without me,'' she says.
She told of how after moving to Auckland at 16, she lived in 11 different houses in the first year.
"I ended up trying to take my life, over the course of quite a few years, 14 times.''
Jazz said she felt completely alone and without any value. After her final attempt, she ended up in the intensive care unit.
When family friends came to talk to her, she couldn't even look at them.
"I remember staring down. I was too ashamed to look at them. I was so scared of what they would say, of what they would think.''
She then burst into tears.
A family friend told her: 'Jazz I think one day your story is going to change the world.''
Her response was one of utter disbelief as she contemplated the mess her life was in.
Thornton made worldwide headlines after posting a letter to Facebook thanking the police officer who rescued her from her 14th suicide attempt.
Constable Meika Campbell found her, saved her and spent 25 minutes in the police car offering encouraging words.
The officer sat with her at the hospital, well into the night.
"Eventually you had to leave and you grabbed my phone, dialling in your work number saying, 'I want you to text me tomorrow and tell me you are okay. I believe in you. You can do this. You need to make it to your 21st birthday and if you can do that for me, I will come and find you on that day to say happy birthday'.
"On my 21st birthday [Constable Campbell] knocked at my door and I was like 'what the heck'," she said.
Fast forward to now and the 25-year-old is already having an impact around the world, sharing a message of hope with a generation that needs it more than ever.
The Girl On The Bridge, directed by award-winning New Zealand filmmaker Leanne Pooley, represents a 'collective anguish about the suicide crisis'.
Pooley, who told the stories of Sir Edmund Hillary in Beyond the Edge and the Topp Twins in Untouchable Girls, lost her brother to suicide.
Shot over a two-year period, it follows Jazz as she finds herself the face of the suicide epidemic unfolding around her.
Young people and their families turn to her in desperation asking her to 'save' them.
Her first book, Stop Surviving Start Fighting, follows a conversation she had when she was 20 which turned her life around.
In 2017, she began studying film and television, directing her first short film, Dear Suicide Me, which went viral, gaining more than 80 million views.
Since then she has co-founded Voices of Hope, a non-profit organisation which aims to create and implement change for mental health.
Jazz was a semi-finalist for Young New Zealander of the Year in 2019, spoke at the UN's Speak Your Mind event during the General Assembly in September 2019, and had coffee with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to discuss mental health in 2018.
The Girl on the Bridge is being brought to Australia by Sunshine Coast-based organisation Movies Change People.
The film will be available to watch online and in select cinemas nationally, to coincide with Mental Health Week (October 10-17)
PRAISE FOR 'THE GIRL ON THE BRIDGE'
"The Girl on the Bridge is certainly not an easy or comfortable watch, but it's a sensitive, important, vital and compelling one."-Stuff
"A remarkable documentary about an extraordinary young woman" - NZ Herald
" … heart-wrenching, confronting, and painfully real."-NewsHub
"Although heart breaking to watch, the film's content is handled with consideration, sensitivity and respect. I endorse Jazz when she says "I really want this not to be something that people watch for an hour and they are impacted by it, and then they go back to their lives. I want it to be something that propels change." I sincerely hope so too." - 13th Floor
Anyone who needs support should contact Lifeline on 131114.