Sydney, June 16: A self-proclaimed custodian of the world's notorious suicide point in Australia and the saviour of 160 people attempting suicide, Don Ritchie is no more. It was the love of sea that drew him to his Sydney home on top of the cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, but he ended up serving the people in a very meaningful manner.
Since 1964, he has saved over 160 men and women who have tried committing suicide from this point. He persuaded them not to throw themselves off the cliff and have also lured them into dropping the idea by inviting them for tea at home. Indeed, the title 'Angel of the Gap' is well-deserved.
The sheer cliffs at the mouth of the Sydney Harbour has long served as a suicide spot for those who want to commit suicide. With his calm demeanor and intense reasoning power, Don was able to persuade people not to take any drastic step. He offered a shoulder to cry on and a hand of help for the depressed.
But, he also admits to have used force on people when they were hell-bent on ending their lives. Ritchie would cross the road from his home to the cliff whenever he spotted somebody with a suicidal tendency and simply ask,"Can I help you in some way?"
He has been paid back generously when the very people whom he had restrained came back to him to thank him for having saved them. He once said,"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 have got to try and save them."
A former seaman in the Royal Australian Navy during the second World War, he also witnessed Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay in 1945. Ritchie passed away this week at the age of 86, but will remain in the hearts of Australians for his contribution to the society.