Despite its enchanting natural beauty, the “The Gap” in New South Wales, Australia is unfortunately, better known as the point where many desperate people choose to end their lives. Fortunately, however, for five decades, Don Ritchie, a man who, with his early intervention, managed to prevent suicides more than 160 in count.
It is no coincidence that many call him “Angel of Australia”.
Ritchie has never been trained for what he did, nor has he ever called the police to help him. Every morning he stood by the hours on his balcony and watched the rock. As soon as someone was behaving suspiciously, he left his home and strikes up a conversation.
I wanted to do something to prevent suicides
How did he persuade desperate people not to commit suicide? With a very simple question:
“Can I do anything to help you? Do you want to come home to have a cup of tea? “He said with a calm voice, always smiling.
And his call always found a response.
“You can not just sit and watch them,” Don said in the newspapers. “You must try to save them. It’s very simple”. Several years back then, they were knocking on the door to “drink together a tea and thank him again”. One day a man sent him a painting. It was an angel with rays around it like those of the sun. From below he wrote: “You are an angel who walks among us.”
“My ambition was always to pull them away from the edge of the rock, to gain some time to talk to them. Give them the opportunity to think again and realize that things could be very different the next morning, “Ritchie once said.
“How do I finally do it? Never underestimate the power of words and smile. ”
Ritchie was a seaman at the Royal Australian Navy during the Second World War. When the war ended, he returned to Sydney and worked in the insurance business.
He said, “I’ve been a salesman for most of my life, and now I’m selling people to life.”
Don Ritchie died in May 2012.