One night in July 2015, Jazz Thornton had run to her local park planning to take her own life. Now, the 23-year-old New Zealander has penned an emotional open letter to the police officer who saved her that night.
In a Facebook post, the young woman, who runs a mental health advocacy and support charity she co-founded with a friend, explained how the officer, Constable Campbell, gave her hope for a future that she “couldn’t see” at the time.
Jazz explained that she had thought “life was not worth living” and had started the process of taking her life when the Auckland City District Police officer interrupted and saved her.
Vikki Ryall from Headspace shares her advice on how parents can talk to their kids about mental health and suicide. Post continues.
“It was late, dark and cold as I thought back on my life and everything that had happened and how much I had messed up,” she wrote.
“With tears streaming down my face, I text out my final goodbye. I glanced across the park and saw a group of flashlights, afraid that they would come across me before I was dead, I took a step out and jumped.
“My jacket caught… and suddenly I felt hands holding me up… Those hands were yours. You held me there while I resisted, you called for backup and attempted to calm me down.”
But the police officer didn’t just physically prevent her from suiciding, they also stayed with the young woman and convinced her to live.
“Putting me in the back of the car, you came around the other side and sat with me, putting your arms around me while I cried my heart out.
“While we waited for the ambulance you sat with me, still with your arms around me telling me how much my life was worth.
“I eventually looked up and saw tears streaming down your face as you told me of the future I could have.”
Jazz explained that despite the police officer’s job officially being ‘done’ they continued to support her.
“The ambulance came and I was moved to the back of it. You sat beside me, refusing to leave my side letting your partner drive the police car to the hospital so you could sit with me.
“We arrived, I was scared, I hated myself and couldn’t express the emotions I was feeling. You sat with me on the hospital bed, continuing to speak into my future and telling me of the hope you knew.
“Hours past and your shift had ended and you were still by my side.”
When Constable Campbell had to leave, Jazz said they promised to find her on her 21st birthday.
“You left and then for some time after you messaged me, encouraging me and speaking hope into me alongside those prominent in my life,” she said.
“Some time passed and I had hit my 21st birthday. By this stage, I had forgotten of your promise – But you hadn’t. You came to my house and knocked on my door just to say ‘happy birthday’. To celebrate the fact I was still alive and fighting.”
Today I turn 23. An age, teenage me never believed I would reach. Looking back I remember the many moments of believing life would never get better and that I would be better off dead. Oh how wrong I was. The last year alone has been the most incredible 365 days where I have got to do and see things I would have never thought possible. I got to travel and speak while creating content with the purpose of providing hope and provoking change. I got to do things that I would have never been able to do had I managed to take my life. I went from believing I was unlovable, to being surrounded by incredible people who love me not for what I do, but for who I am. And that’s what I am most thankful for. That as I enter 23, I do so with an army of people backing me, loving me, taking risks, laughing with me and challenging me. If you are struggling today, don’t give up, the best is yet to come. ????????
The Voices of Hope co-founder shared her story as a response to seeing police being “slammed” by the media.
“The public don’t often see this side. The people, stories and emotions behind our police force.”
“Thank you Constable Campbell for not only physically saving my life that night, but for speaking hope, for sitting with me, crying with me and seeing a future for me that at that point, I couldn’t see. A future I am now living in.
“Everything I now get to do, every video I create, talk I give or mental health campaign I organise would not have happened had you not stepped in that night. Your intervention and care ensured that I lived to see breakthrough and freedom.
“Thank you for putting your life on the line for our country and while doing so, saving mine.”
Since sharing her open letter on the Voices of Hope Facebook page on Saturday it has been shared more than 1300 times and picked up by several news outlets.
Jazz told Mamamia she has been “overwhelmed by the positive response” from police officers and the public.
“I’ve had hundreds of messages from police officers saying they were thinking of leaving the force but the post reminded them of why they got into it in the first place,” she said.
“People have messaged saying it’s inspired them to take the leap and apply to be a cop and also many sharing their similar stories with me.
“I’m so thrilled that the letter has helped show the positive side of police that we [rarely] see.”
If you are experiencing crisis, depression or suicidal thoughts, there is always help available. You can call Lifeline anytime on 13 11 14.