The tattoo she wore on her arm "Don't be afraid to ask for help" was not enough to save her.
Chanelle Haffenden, 27, made national headlines in 2014 standing in the middle of the Manukau road intersection holding a sign saying "Please give me a job" before embarking on a voyage of kindness around the country. Her family believe she took her own life last month.
Her story is one of child abuse, mental illness, several attempted suicides, working as a stripper and an affair with a married man.
Her mother, Karlene Chambers, is speaking publicly to encourage others with mental illness to be "heard" and "to be believed".
"I feel strongly about helping other people. If it can change something for just one person then that's one person who is not going to hurt themselves," she told the Herald on Sunday.
The darkness started creeping in when she was a child growing up in Drury.
Haffenden was sexually abused by a church elder when she was 5 years old and tried to overdose on pills at 12.
She didn't have friends at primary school and she felt she didn't fit in. Kids called her "psycho".
"Chanelle lacked social skills and couldn't cope with criticism," said her sister Melinda Evans.
"She felt excluded and lost the plot. She would run around the school grounds throwing chairs and tables. One time police had to come in and handcuff her to a chair."
Evans said her sister had attempted to take her life "1000s of times" by self-harming and overdosing. Some attempts didn't require hospital admission, others needed emergency treatment followed by long stays in psychiatric units.
"She would sleep with knives. It got to the point where me and my younger sister would go and check her bed every night to get rid of the knives," said Evans.
Haffenden left primary school and was home schooled by her mother for four years.
"She suffered from dissociative identity disorder - when you have multiple personalities - bouts of anxiety and debilitating depression," said Chambers.
Known as Nellie and Angel to her family, she was the middle daughter of three girls - older sister Evans and younger sister Cherish. She was close to both but confided in Evans, who had also suffered from depression in her teens.
"She loved the limelight and is the complete opposite to me. She was the loud one, she never stopped talking . She was very extravagant and out there but had a quiet side too," said Evans.
Although outwardly confident, Haffenden had an "anxious disposition".
Evans said her sister went through periods of "calm and periods of storm" but it wasn't "rocky the entire time and she would go a year or two with absolutely no issues".
Her mother described her as "cute" and "kind".
"She always helped the homeless and brought strays home. I feel sad we helped so many people but I couldn't help my daughter," said Chambers.
She started her working life at McDonald's. By age 21, unemployed for two-and-a-half years, Haffenden made national headlines trying to find a job. Using her last $2 from her benefit she bought a large piece of paper, wrote "Please give me a job" on it, and stood out on a busy Manukau intersection. Within three hours she had up to seven job offers.
The stunt went viral on social media and drew the attention of ice-cream company Nice Blocks owners James Crow and Tommy Jones, who offered her a job in customer services where she stayed for two years.
"Chanelle certainly had her fair share of troubles, probably more than most people had to combat. We helped her fight a lot of demons and she worked really hard," said Crow.
"We got to the point where our business was growing and she was our one point of contact. Her mental health was putting a lot of pressure on her. She felt really responsible to us to get everything done - it impacted on her and made her feel concerned she was going to let us down."
"She was tackling issues, having a full-time job and living in Auckland and trying to balance all of life's problems. She was able to get on with her life after she left us and moved into another job," he said.
Haffenden stayed in touch with her former boss and sought advice from him about helping the homeless and mental health education and bullying in schools.
"She was trying to put those structures in place right up to the time she passed away," said Crow.
Two years later, Haffenden stood on a Sandringham Rd with a job sign , and again was inundated with job offers.
She has featured in the Herald a number of times over the years, including when she slept rough as part of the Big Sleepout , which raises money for the homeless.
She eventually started working as a stripper at the White House club in central Auckland. For extra cash she set up a private escort website - where men could "hire her for the night". Her family were aware of her job and reluctantly supported her.
"It wasn't great, but you have to accept what your children do," her mother said.
By 2017, Haffenden fell in love with a middle-aged married man, who contacted her via her website. She had told her family the man was paying for her rent on her Auckland flat and that they planned to buy a house and move in together.
"She was genuinely in love with him she thought she was 'the one' and they were going to live happily ever after with a house and kids," said Chambers.
But the relationship ended late last year.
For the past three years Haffenden was writing a book about her life.
"She wanted to get it out there in the open, not have it sit on her heart the whole time. She wanted to make a difference to someone," said Evans.
The Girl With One Thousand Scars is a harrowing account of sexual abuse, attempted suicide, living with dissociative identity disorder and falling in love.
Evans is still "too raw" to read her sister's story but her mother finished the proof copy last week.
"It was really heartbreaking to read. Our system is wrong, we need to protect our kids," said Chambers.
The night before she died, on July 22, Haffenden phoned her mother to say she was moving to her mother's house in Athenree, near Waihi, and couldn't wait to see her "fur baby", aka her dog Millie.
"I told Chanelle I was proud of her and how far she had come in the last 18 months. She said: 'All good mum, I love you. I'll be home on Monday.' She ended up home in a box," said Chambers.
Kyle MacDonald, chairman of the board at Key to Life charitable trust, said it was important to remember that there was never one thing that caused a person to take their own life.
"In general terms people commit suicide because they feel there is no option and there is no escape from the pain they are in.
"It's important to note the impact of child sex abuse on mental health difficulties and suicide cases like this. That kind of abuse in childhood shapes the way a person develops and often the symptoms are ongoing and lifelong.
"But there's never one thing - often things make sense in retrospect and obviously not everyone who experiences child sexual abuse goes on to commit suicide."
Haffenden had hoped to one day work in mental health, with children who had gone off the rails, her sister said.
"I am not comfortable Chanelle took her own life but I've accepted it. I know now she will be happy and in peace. She lived her life with upsets and turmoils."
All her daughter wanted was a fairy-tale ending, her mother said. And in the final chapter of her life Chanelle was able to say goodbye in her own words.
The family's message to others who are struggling is: "There is always someone out there who believes and cares. It doesn't matter what time of day, there will be somebody out there. We need to be kind, we need a better humanity. All my sister wanted was a kinder world and that's what she tried to do with her time on this earth."
The Girl With One Thousand Scars
An extract from Chanelle Haffenden's book
And here you come to the final reason for this memoir, this confession, this cathartic explosion. It's also a farewell note. So maybe, when I'm gone, someone will remember and think kindly of me. That's all I craved all my life. Kindness. And peace. And security from fear.
Will I be alive when you read this? I have no idea. From day to day I struggle and my mind changes, hell my whole personality changes. I don't even know who I am. One of me at least wants to end it. I think another one of me wants to keep confronting the world, dragging every last morsel of feeling from it, be it pleasure, pain, hope or shame.
I don't know. That is the honest truth.
All know is my book is my legacy. Me. In my own words.
Now you have my story. Be content with that. Maybe you will understand me and think better of me, maybe you won't. But now is the time to leave me.
Wherever you go, whatever you do, wherever your life takes you, be kind to yourself.
WHERE TO GET HELP:
If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:
• 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE : 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE : 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP : 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757 or TEXT 4202