Australian 'Angel' Saves Lives at Notorious Suicide Spot

There's a spot above a rocky cliff at Sydney Harbour called The Gap. Since the 19th Century, countless people have ended their lives there. But Don Ritchie, who has lived at that location for fifty years, has made his life's work to stand watch and invite people to choose life. According to the official count, he's saved one hundred and sixty lives:

In those bleak moments when the lost souls stood atop the cliff, wondering whether to jump, the sound of the wind and the waves was broken by a soft voice. "Why don't you come and have a cup of tea?" the stranger would ask. And when they turned to him, his smile was often their salvation.[...]

In his younger years, he would occasionally climb the fence to hold people back while Moya called the police. He would help rescue crews haul up the bodies of those who couldn't be saved. And he would invite the rescuers back to his house afterward for a comforting drink.

It all nearly cost him his life once. A chilling picture captured decades ago by a local news photographer shows Ritchie struggling with a woman, inches from the edge. The woman is seen trying to launch herself over the side — with Ritchie the only thing between her and the abyss. Had she been successful, he would have gone over, too.

These days, he keeps a safer distance. The council installed security cameras this year and the invention of mobile phones means someone often calls for help before he crosses the street.

But he remains available to lend an ear, though he never tries to counsel, advise or pry. He just gives them a warm smile, asks if they'd like to talk and invites them back to his house for tea. Sometimes, they join him.


Link via Glenn Reynolds | Photo: AP/Jeremy Piper

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"I just lost every penny I ever owned in a failed tea importing company, my wife ran away with the head tea taster, and now you - YOU - ask me if I want a cup of TEA?"
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Give a Man a Fish - Twaggies by Twaggies
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