Young Aucklander Ruby Joy says her life was saved by the touching words of British literary star Julie Burchill, who recently lost her son to suicide.
The 23-year-old social work student from Morrinsville battled anorexia and depression since her teens, leading to dark suicidal thoughts. However, a post her Facebook friend Julie Burchill penned about her own son's suicide helped Ruby realise the effect her death could have on those close to her.
Burchill's son, Jack Landesman, took his life last week at age 29, after suffering from depression during his adult life.
The 55-year-old mother implored others to "look after the people you love" and when Ruby responded with how it had helped her, Burchill encouraged her friends and followers to send messages of support to the young woman.
"I was really shocked when I found out that she was famous," Ruby told the Herald online.
"I'm not actually sure how I ended up friending her on FB, I can't even remember."
Ruby admits she was "pretty depressed" when she read Burchill's post about her son.
"I'd just got out of the hospital the night before and was looking at the prospect of gaining weight and getting better and realising that I'd relapsed and I just felt like everybody would be disappointed in me."
When she woke up the next morning, she discovered hundreds of supportive messages from people all around the world and wrote an emotional Facebook post to thank them.
"I realised that as this mother grieved for her child so to would mine grieve for me, I thought of her son and the life he had and then suddenly didn't have and it made it real, I thought of my friends and people close to me that I would hate to hurt and put the pills away," she wrote.
"My inbox was full, like more friend requests then I have friends on Facebook and heaps and heaps of messages, I'm still working my way through them," Ruby said.
When she discovered Burchill was a journalist, Ruby said it "made sense" to her, as she had previously been inspired by the words of Herald on Sunday and Newstalk ZB journalist Kerre McIvor.
"In my darkest times I'd listened to her on the radio and I felt like she'd mothered me for years when I was completely alone.
"So when I found out that Julie was a journalist it just made sense that I find solace in the sass and the voice of female journalists.
"They'd definitely be the two women that I definitely look up to and I'd like to thank, because I owe them my life."
McIvor said she remembered Ruby as "the most gorgeous girl, a really intelligent young woman" who wrote beautiful poems.
"She's one of the ones that make you realise that you're not just filling the gaps between the ads, you have no idea of the impact you might have on somebody."
Ruby urged those suffering from mental illness to reach out and ask for help.
"Realise that maybe it's a bad day but not a bad life and just keep reminding yourself you'll probably feel different in a few hours so you just need to do something or contact something to get through that rough patch."
Where to get help:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youth services: (06) 3555 906
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (4pm to 6pm weekdays)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• The Word
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• CASPER Suicide Prevention
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
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