'People would say 'go kill yourself'' – Young Kiwi cyberbullying survivor speaks out

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A young Kiwi woman has revealed how cyberbullying drove her to attempt suicide – and how she fought back.

"We portray one thing on social media, but you never know what's going on behind the scenes," Jazz Thornton explained on tonight's episode of TVNZ's mental health series, The Inside Word.

Jazz first experienced cyberbullying at the age of 12.

Online, she was subjected to a barrage of abusive messages from schoolmates. Many of them wrote anonymous comments about her.

"People would say, 'Go kill yourself; it would be better if you were dead; everyone hates you'... All of those horrible things.

"It makes you feel like no matter what you do, people are going to hate you anyway."

The abuse continued for four years. At the age of 16, Jazz reached breaking point.

"There was one page that was really bad, and tipped me over. It was called, 'Jazz Thornton Is An Attention-Seeking Slut'.

"I thought that there was no point in me living anymore, because everyone hated me; I would never be loved; I was a burden to everyone. And it got too much."

She tried to commit suicide, and woke up in hospital. Despite surviving, Jazz says she believed her life would never get better.

In total, she has attempted suicide 14 times.

Last month, Jazz made national headlines when she posted a letter she wrote to a police officer who once prevented her from taking her life.

However, the biggest turning point came when Jazz's mentor helped her realise that she was simply "surviving" rather than "fighting" her destructive thoughts.

Jazz worked hard to change her "core beliefs". She surrounded herself with positive people, and made lifestyle changes to ensure that she could access help when she needed it.

Now 23, she co-leads Voices of Hope, a movement to promote positive conversations about mental health in New Zealand.

"I can’t believe the transformation. I used to wake up every day wishing I hadn’t. And now I wake up every day so excited."

Watch the full episode of The Inside Word on cyberbullying here: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/shows/the-inside-word/episodes/s2018-e4

Where can I get support and help?

If you want to talk to someone about any challenges in your life, free call or text 1737 anytime to speak to a trained counsellor.

Lifeline - 0800 543 354

Youthline - 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email: talk@youthline.co.nz

Samaritans - 0800 726 666

Healthline - 0800 611 116

Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 or free text 4202 or www.depression.org.nz

The Lowdown: A website to help young New Zealanders recognise and understand depression or anxiety. www.thelowdown.co.nz or free text 5626

SPARX.org.nz: Online e-therapy tool provided by the University of Auckland that helps young people learn skills to deal with feeling down, depressed or stressed

OUTLine NZ - 0800 688 5463 for support related to sexual orientation or gender identity.

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