Since 1964 Don Ritchie had saved some 160 lives. Actual numbers might be much higher, according to British newspaper the Independent. Mr Ritchie passed away recently at 86. His home was near the Pacific Ocean and a notorious local suicide spot. His selfless work earned the former seaman of the Royal Australian Navy the name “Angel of the Gap”.
The cliffs in Sydney harbor have a sad history, being famous for people who didn’t want to go on anymore throwing themselves into the water below. But Don Ritchie was by the side of many on that cliff top, calmly and sympathetically talking them back into life.
The article describes him as a modest person who would see people ready to jump from the window of his house. He would slowly walk to them, right to the cliff edge,and just ask if he could help them in some way. His quiet manner often worked, although sometimes he did have to physically restrain suicadal people from hurling themselves from the rock.
A vist to his home, a cup of tea and some talking followed. Some of them visited him later to thank him for not letting them jump. The article quotes Mr. Ritchie: “My ambition has always been to just get them away from the edge, to buy them time, to give them the opportunity to reflect and give them the chance to realise that things might look better the next morning. You just can’t sit there and watch them. You’ve got to try and save them.”
Mr Ritchie was not only modest, but extremely brave. This was a true example of courage and empathy.
Image note: T.Graff/ wikimedia/cc