Life af­ter near-death ex­pe­ri­ence

Sui­cide sur­vivor turns coun­sel­lor


FROM time to time, we all strug­gle with that lit­tle voice on our shoul­der telling us we are not good enough.

But for Donna Thistlethwaite, that voice on her shoul­der be­come so loud she could see no other op­tion than to end it all.

In 2012, she drove to Bris­bane's Story Bridge and fell from the iconic land­mark.

Mirac­u­lously, Donna sur­vived the fall and since then she has be­come a cri­sis coun­sel­lor and a mo­ti­va­tional speaker help­ing oth­ers who are go­ing through the same painful jour­ney she did.

Let’s talk about the day you went up to the Story Bridge and made the de­ci­sion to at­tempt to end your life.


Well, I hadn’t slept very well the night be­fore and I had de­cided overnight that (jump­ing off the bridge) was what I was go­ing to do. I re­mem­ber I played with my son in the back­yard and I was a bit with­drawn. I guess it looked like a nor­mal day, but I had th­ese thoughts.

MC: Did you at­tempt to com­mu­ni­cate with any­one that day about what you had planned to do?

DT: I reached out to a psy­chi­a­trist that had treated me in the past. I sent them an email, but the email bounced back.

MC: Why would you send an email? Is it fair to say you didn’t re­ally want their re­sponse?

DT: No, I think I did. I didn’t have his phone num­ber and at the time he was the only per­son I felt I could speak to about it.

MC: Donna, do you know why you made that de­ci­sion to jump off the bridge?

DT: I just couldn’t see any other way out of my sit­u­a­tion. I had such thoughts of des­per­a­tion. I thought I had made such a mess of ev­ery­thing and I couldn’t work out how to fix it. This is the only way I could think of to fix it. It was very sur­real.

MC: Since re­cov­er­ing from your in­juries you have a whole new lease on life th­ese days. And you have done an Aus­tralian Story on your life. What sort of re­sponse did you get af­ter that?

DT: Well, it was in­ter­est­ing, be­cause the ABC con­tacted me and the pro­ducer said ‘look, we think your story is re­ally pow­er­ful’ and would I be open to shar­ing it?

MC: Be­cause be­fore that point you had re­mained anony­mous?

DT: Yeah, I had done some pod­casts, but I didn’t use my name.

MC: Were you happy with the fi­nal re­sult?

DT: Yeah, I thought they did an amaz­ing job. I got so many mes­sages from peo­ple.

MC: What sort of mes­sages did you get?

DT: A lot of thank yous. One woman said her sis­ter had watched the pro­gram and then was able to de­scribe what was go­ing on for her.


NEW ZEST FOR LIFE: Donna Thistlethwaite sur­vived a sui­cide at­tempt, and now helps oth­ers.

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