Ep 178: Where are the voices of hope?
What goes through the mind of a 12 year old who attempts to take her own life? We hear the story of Jazz Thornton who attempted suicide multiple times as a teenager, yet she found hope and has since changed the world.
Our guest: Jazz Thornton. Jazz is a young New Zealander who is the co-founder of Voices of Hope, which provides help and hope to those struggling with mental illness. She advocates for those with depression, anxiety and suicidal thinking all around the world. Jazz is also the award-winning director of Jessica's Tree and her story is the focus of a new feature documentary film The Girl on the Bridge.
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If you are worried that someone is in immediate danger or you feel in danger yourself please call the police immediately, they are here to help. If you would like to access support and advice please go to www.thegirlonthebridgefilm.com.au to find national and international helplines.
Bigger Questions asked in the conversation
Now Jazz - as we begin today’s conversation, we are going to engage some fairly difficult and challenging issues as we confront the big questions of mental illness and suicidal thinking. Now Jazz, it might be uncomfortable to talk about these big questions, but do you think it’s important to open up conversations about these topics?
Childhood and suicide attempts
Let’s talk about your story - for it’s pretty foundational to the work you do. You’ve said that you had a pretty rough childhood and upbringing - so tell us what was your childhood like?
You had attempted to take your life - life must have been pretty bad for you?
What goes through the head of someone contemplating taking their own life?
What is the key reason from going from feeling bad, to wanting to end it all?
You attempted suicide multiple times. That’s truly dreadful - were you feeling and thinking similar things each time, or was there something different that triggered each attempt?
So you attempted suicide multiple times as a teenager. So what changed? Why wasn’t there another attempt?
Wasn’t there also a key faith experience which was important to you as well? Can you share what happened?
There is a passage in the Old Testament, from the book of Jeremiah, where the prophet Jeremiah was writing to God’s people, the Israelites, who were in exile. They’d been defeated, captured and deported to Babylon, the most powerful nation on earth at the time. It seemed a pretty bleak, hopeless situation for them. But then Jeremiah brought a word from God to the nation in Jeremiah 29:11, where the Lord says,
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
This is speaking about the nation of Israel when they were in a seemingly hopeless situation, but to what extent does the offer of hope from God and a future speak to you?
Jazz, you have a powerful story and it’s one which has been made into a movie, a feature length documentary - The Girl on the Bridge. How do you feel that your story has been turned into a film?
The Girl on the Bridge is screening now in selected cinemas and online. Find out more at thegirlonthebridgefilm.com.au. So Jazz how should someone prepare themselves before watching the film, for this is not a romantic comedy type film is it?
The film The Girl on the Bridge is described as a ‘declaration of hope’ - why is that?
So what are people saying about the film?
Now, the film is part of your broader work of advocacy for those contemplating taking their own lives, you started an organisation called ‘Voices of Hope’, you have given a TEDx talk, you’ve written a book - so how important is advocacy in this space? Is it common or widespread in our community for people to contemplate suicide?
Why do people feel that they can’t ask for help?
Has the Coronavirus and lockdowns around the world increased the risk for people considering suicide?
What impact have you seen from your work?
You live your life in the space of mental health and suicide, confronted by some of the worst challenges people face - But this seems very intense. Do you just get overwhelmed at times? Where it’s just a bit too much?
How does your faith help you?
If you could go back and meet your 12 year old self, that day you attempted suicide, what would you say to that 12 year old girl?
If you were that 12 year old girl hearing that wisdom - how do you think that would have helped you?
If someone is listening now and feeling suicidal - what do you suggest they do?
The Big Question
So Jazz, where are the voices of hope?