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The Mental Health Advocate We Need: Jazz Thornton


Image: Jazz Thornton, wearing a Voices of Hope Sweatshirt that is black

The image is from https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0oxnXk6IpZT1NmaIGGDpLw

Jazz Thornton, a 27-year-old New Zealander, has faced vast adversity throughout her life. She dealt with sexual abuse at the age of three and has had fourteen suicide attempts in her lifetime. Jazz is a survivor, to say the least. From her journey, Jazz was able to rise above with the help of one of her doctors, who goes by Dr. Steph, on social media. Dr. Steph not only helped Jazz realize she needed to start fighting for her life rather than surviving day-to-day. From this, Jazz began to make changes in the world of Mental Health Advocacy.

She is not only a survivor but also a film director Jazz created a video in 2016 called Dear Suicidal Me, which was only the start of her film career, as she would later film The Girl on the Bridge, “ The story of a young woman with the weight of a generation on her shoulders. Having survived her own suicidal struggles. Ultimately this is a film about hope. It’s a film about redemption. It’s a challenge for all of us to try to understand” (Thornton, 2020, October 07). You can find the film at this link:https://www.thegirlonthebridgefilm.com/

Film director to author, Jazz has written three books, the most popular one being Stop Surviving Start Fighting. This book deep dives into Jazz’s life and her struggles while also shedding light on suicidality. She gives practical tools and resources to help people begin their fight for life. I personally read her book during my first year of college, and it was the fastest I had ever read a book. That was how powerful it was. One of my favorite quotes from her book is, “You cannot think yourself to freedom, you have to action it, (THORNTON, 2020). This book really helped me during my first year of college, as I struggled much like Jazz with suicidal thoughts. 

Mental health advocacy is vital to making changes when it comes to how people view mental health and mental illness. That is why people like Jazz Thornton are important. She pushes for change and promotes the value of taking care of yourself, not just in a physical manner but mentally too. A way that Jazz does is is through her foundation that she started with Genevieve Mora, who is also a mental health advocate and co-founder, along with Jazz of Voices of Hope which is a mental health charity based in New Zealand. When asking a Maryville student, “what is the importance of mental health advocacy and advocates?” She stated that “advocates of mental health are able to educate others on the misconceptions and stigmas regarding the symptoms and behaviors of people who find themselves struggling. Representation regarding this matter normalizes the effort to understand others’ struggles within the community.” This student would like to remain anonymous, but she puts it so well. Mental health is just as important as physical health. Jazz Thornton paving a way for mental health advocacy through her writing, film, and, ultimately, her story.

We all have a story, whether that be our own or knowing someone who struggles with mental illness. If you want to share your story, send it to lschaeffer2@live.maryville.edu, you can remain anonymous or share who you are. I just want voices to be heard. 

You can find Jazz on: 

  • Tiktok: jazzthornton_
  • Instagram: jazzthornton

Voices of Hope Logo from https://www.thevoicesofhope.org/

References: 

THORNTON, J. (2020). Stop surviving start fighting. READHOWYOUWANT.

Thornton, J. (2020, October 07). The girl on the bridge film. Retrieved October 9, 2022, from https://www.thegirlonthebridgefilm.com/

Resources at Maryville: 

Maryville University Counseling Center

University Library

(314) 529-9556

24/7 Counseling Center Support Line: (314) 529-6630

Other resources: 

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline  

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1 (800) 273-8255

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention

If you are in immediate crisis, please call 911

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