Meet the ‘Angel of Gap’ who saved 500 people from death in Sydney
A good Samaritan has been dubbed the ‘Angel of the Breach’ after stopping hundreds of people from jumping off a cliff near his home and committing suicide.
Don Ritchie is believed to have saved almost 500 people from suicide at The Gap at South Head in Sydney’s eastern suburbs over 50 years.
He was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2006 for his efforts before dying at the age of 85 in 2012.
His heroic efforts made him known as “an angel who walks among us” thanks to the heartwarming message engraved on the prestigious medal.
Remembering his contribution comes as World Mental Health Day began on Tuesday.
Don Ritchie (pictured) saved around 500 people from suicide at The Gap, a cliff in Sydney’s eastern suburbs
Mr Ritchie lived opposite the Watson’s Bay site, infamous for being frequented by people who end their lives from the top of a 100 meter cliff.
The former life insurance salesman often saw people visiting the site before realizing they would disappear.
Mr. Ritchie decided to intervene and engaged in a simple act of kindness that would deter a person from falling and dying.
He was filmed in a video for mental health charity RU OK around ten years ago with footage detailing how he invited strangers to discuss their problems.
“I’ve talked to a lot of them that way to say, ‘What are you doing here,'” Mr. Ritchie said.
“Please come and talk to me, come and have a cup of tea… come and have a beer or something to take their minds off (sic) and stop them from coming over while I’m here.”
Every morning he would look at the edge of the cliff and if he noticed someone standing near the edge, he would rush to help them.
“We (Don and his wife Moya) have been involved in a lot of these incidents and it has become part of our way of life,” he said.
“for me it’s kind of selling (sic) the idea that why don’t we come and talk about it and see how we can fix it.”
While he stopped 160 people from committing suicide in his lifetime, Mr Ritchie’s family says he helped save the lives of around 500 people.
During his youth, the former World War II veteran physically stopped several people from committing suicide.
While he physically stopped potential victims from committing suicide, his wife Moya called the police.
The Gap (pictured) in South Head, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, is infamous for suicides.
The site (pictured) is often a place where several people tragically plunge to their deaths from the edge of the 100 meter high cliff.
Later, as he grew older and Mr. Ritchie became less strong, he began to invite people over to his house for a cup of tea.
He always helped out by offering a cup of tea or breakfast to those who were struggling and simply asked if they wanted to talk.
Mr. Ritchie limited himself to talking to people in need and never ventured to offer his advice on how to solve their problems.
His efforts to help others nearly led to his own death decades ago, while trying to save a woman who was standing inches from the cliff’s edge.
The woman attempted to jump into the depths of the sea and onto the rocky surface before Mr Ritchie managed to pull her back up.
The terrifying incident could have ended badly if the woman had jumped, which would also have caused Mr Ritchie to fall off the cliff.
Mr Ritchie said news.com he felt obligated to help those in distress.
“You can’t just sit there and watch them, you have to (sic) try to save them,” he said.
Mr Ritchie (pictured right), who died in 2012 aged 85, was awarded a medal of the Order of Australia in 2006 for his efforts to save countless lives.
Mr Ritchie has thrown his support behind mental health workers and former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to raise funds to prevent suicide at The Gap.
World Mental Health Day raises awareness about mental health was established by the World Health Organization in 1992.
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