Kiwi pens letter to police officer who saved her life

Jazz Thornton tried to take her own life when she was 19.
Jazz Thornton tried to take her own life when she was 19. Photo credit: Facebook/Jazz Thornton

Warning: This article discusses suicide.

An Auckland woman has written an open letter to the police officer who saved her life.

Jazz Thornton, 23, is the co-founder of non-profit mental health organisation Voices of Hope.

In 2015, when she was 19 years old, she found herself on the brink of suicide.

In an emotional Facebook post, Ms Thornton wrote about the night she tried to kill herself and the police officer who stopped her.

She had run out of her house to the local park with the intention of attempting suicide for the 14th time. She called the police to tell them what she intended to do - not so that they would stop her, but so that a stranger wouldn't be the one to find her body.

"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."

It was then that she saw a group of flashlights coming across the park towards her.

"Afraid that they would come across me before I was dead, I took a step out and jumped."

When her jacket became caught on a branch, Constable Meika Campbell reached her.

"Suddenly I felt hands holding me up against the trunk of the tree. Those hands were yours. You held me there while I resisted, you called for backup and attempted to calm me down."

Ms Thornton was carried to a police car "kicking and screaming", where she waited for an ambulance with Constable Campbell by her side.

"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."

Constable Campbell stayed by her side during the ambulance ride and sat with her once she was placed into a hospital bed.

"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."

The officer stayed at the hospital until well after her shift had ended. Eventually she had to leave, but she made Ms Thornton promise something to her.

"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.'"

Ms Thornton kept her promise and they kept in contact for the next two years.

"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."

She wrote about her gratitude and admiration for Constable Campbell, partly in order to counter negative media coverage of police officers with her positive experience.

"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."

Ms Thornton said the life she leads now would never have been possible were it not for the support she received that night.

"Your intervention and care ensured that I lived to see breakthrough and freedom," she wrote. "Thank you for putting your life on the line for our country and while doing so, saving mine."

In a later post to her personal Facebook page, Ms Thornton said she had been contacted by other police officers and members of the public thanking her for sharing her story and telling their own.

If you wish to talk to someone about mental illness or domestic violence, you can call Lifeline on 0800 543 354, the Depression Helpline on 0800 111 757 or the National Telehealth Service on 1737.

Newshub.