Mum Donna with her son. Donna survived jumping from Sorty Bridge
Mum Donna with her son. Donna survived jumping from Sorty Bridge

‘I had to tell my son I jumped off the Story Bridge’

"I'm so glad that you are here with me mummy."

Those are the words of nine-year-old Matthew whose mum climbed to the top of the Story Bridge and jumped off.

Matthew was a toddler when Donna Thistlethwaite couldn't shake the feeling that she was a bad mother.

"I was so full of anxiety and had convinced myself I was useless, that I was going to lose my job, that my family and Matthew would be better off without me," the Brisbane mum, who miraculously survived the suicide bid, told The Sunday Mail.

Donna Thistlethwaite with her son Matthew, 9. Picture: Jamie Hanson
Donna Thistlethwaite with her son Matthew, 9. Picture: Jamie Hanson

"People often think it is selfish and gutless to take your own life. There can be a lot of judgment but I honestly felt I was doing my child and my husband a favour. It was not rational thinking," she said.

Ms Thistlethwaite says she has always had a strange connection with the Story Bridge, one that she cannot explain.

"I knew that was how I was going to do it."

On August 12, 2012, Donna set off in her car to plan her suicide for the next day.

"I wanted to work out where to park and where to go but once I was there I decided that was the day, I would do it right there and then," she said.

The quick decision meant that she had not given Matthew or partner Greg a special goodbye kiss. She left a message on Greg's voicemail saying she was sorry.

"I walked past people in a daze to the middle of the bridge. It was not easy climbing over the fence. I was not scared but felt at peace. When I started to fall my breath was taken away from me but I was relaxed when I hit the Brisbane river. I had reconciled I was going to the other side," she said.

Donna, pictured with baby Matthew, says she was full of anxiety prior to her suicide attempt.
Donna, pictured with baby Matthew, says she was full of anxiety prior to her suicide attempt.

The 40m fall did not kill Ms Thistlethwaite, and she was rescued by a Brisbane CityCat crew. She suffered a broken rib, a lacerated liver, five fractured vertebrae and bruising.

"During my rehabilitation I was told that if I was to take my own life my son had a 50 per cent increased risk of suicide. For me that was the moment I realised that I would never attempt to take my life again. I would not put that curse on him," Ms Thistlethwaite said,

"When I first held Matthew in my arms after I left hospital I was so glad to be alive and vowed to cherish every single moment with my son," she said.

Donna Thistlethwaite says she has always had a connection to Brisbane’s Story Brige. File picture
Donna Thistlethwaite says she has always had a connection to Brisbane’s Story Brige. File picture

She says she is in the best place psychologically she has ever been in her life and feels she was meant to live to help others who feel as desperate as she did that August day.

"I hate that my family had to suffer so much pain due to my actions.

"I tell Matthew about what happened during my crisis. I explain that I had unhelpful thoughts in my head and it is important to challenge those thoughts.

"I try to be honest and love him. Sometimes he will say 'Why did you do that mummy?'

"But I no longer feel like I am a bad mum. I am eternally grateful for being alive for as far as I was concerned if you jump off the Story Bridge you die.

"I hope I can help others realise they can come back from the worst possible experiences," she said.

Ms Thistlethwaite has joined forces with UnitingCare to help promote the Brisbane Lifeline Bookfest, sharing her story to help raise essential funds for Lifeline Queensland's 13 11 14 Crisis Support Line. Lifeline Bookfest Brisbane is on now and runs until Sunday June 23 at Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

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