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The Angel of The Gap
May 14, 2012 2:14 AM   Subscribe

The Angel of The Gap. For almost half a century, Don Ritchie would approach people contemplating suicide at the edge of The Gap, just 50 metres from his home in Watsons Bay, his palms facing up [...] he would smile and say: "Is there something I could do to help you?". RIP Don Ritchie, Australian Local Hero of the Year for 2011, and saviour of at least 160 would-be suicides at Sydney scenic cliff & suicide spot, The Gap.
posted by UbuRoivas (45 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is so sad. He was a really lovely guy, and helped so many people. I guess this day was inevitable, but somehow it seems so unfair.
posted by harriet vane at 2:42 AM on May 14, 2012


He sounds like a true, beautiful soul. Our world was made better by him having lived in it.
posted by Ochiee at 2:51 AM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


.

A far better man, than many who proceeded him.

Far better, than the throng that followed.

May he know peace.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 2:52 AM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's sad, but really, he didn't waste his time, it seems. 160 people had another chance because of this guy.

I wonder, though, about the idea that other people in the same situation, would be capable of turning a blind eye. If people are flocking to your neighborhood to kill themselves, how could you not try to help? Or maybe me image of humanity has gotten too positive again. I'd like to think this man is amazing, but I'd also like to think that what he did is exactly what you or I, or anyone would do.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:56 AM on May 14, 2012


Humanity is amazing, Ghidorah. Just because amazing may happen ad nausea doesn't lessen the fact that it is amazing.
posted by ZaneJ. at 3:12 AM on May 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


Reports say 160 was the minimum and it may well have been nearer 500, btw.
posted by Segundus at 3:14 AM on May 14, 2012


Wow. Bless this guy.
posted by salvia at 3:24 AM on May 14, 2012


Gidorah, I think he'd have agreed with you - pretty sure I read in an older interview that he felt anyone in his situation would do the same as he'd done.
posted by harriet vane at 3:33 AM on May 14, 2012


I don't think most people would tackle a would-be suicide to keep them from jumping off the ledge. What an inspiring person.
posted by KGMoney at 3:36 AM on May 14, 2012


There is no dot big enough.

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posted by DreamerFi at 3:47 AM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


What a dear man.

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posted by andraste at 3:51 AM on May 14, 2012


Previously.

It may not be a popular POV around here, but I believe in heaven and that I might get to meet this guy there some day, assuming I make it there.
posted by allkindsoftime at 4:35 AM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Are there any accounts by people he talked out of jumping?
posted by Segundus at 4:50 AM on May 14, 2012


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posted by drezdn at 5:02 AM on May 14, 2012


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posted by kjs4 at 5:07 AM on May 14, 2012


Many people dream of making a difference. Some actually do.

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posted by tommasz at 5:14 AM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by adamt at 5:16 AM on May 14, 2012


Are there any accounts by people he talked out of jumping?


Most newspapers have a policy against publishing information about suicide attempts, so probably not. The nearest Gap to where I live is the Tobin Bridge, which has a sidewalk but which is closed to the public now, and anyone who trespasses on it is presumed suicidal nowadays and immediately gets the police called over.
posted by ocschwar at 5:36 AM on May 14, 2012


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posted by MT at 5:37 AM on May 14, 2012


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posted by Karmeliet at 5:48 AM on May 14, 2012


Dropping in an interview of Don Ritchie that was touching.



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posted by Wolfster at 6:05 AM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is no dot big enough.

There were at least 160 dots that other people didn't have to post prematurely. I can't think of a higher accolade.
posted by eriko at 6:09 AM on May 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's pretty easy to be a bystander in a lot of ways these days; good on Mr. Ritchie for taking an active role to improve the world. RIP.

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posted by smirkette at 6:19 AM on May 14, 2012


Thanks mate.

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posted by gomichild at 6:29 AM on May 14, 2012


Something I have learned from metafilter is that pretty much everyone is struggling with something. I frequently fail at making other people's lives just a little bit better. This guy reminds me by making such a big difference in saving other people's lives that I can do better at making at least a small difference of making someone smile.
posted by srboisvert at 7:07 AM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


What a lovely person we have lost in this man!

So many of us wonder what to do with our lives, but he seems to have figured it out early on. I can't think he died with many regrets, knowing he helped all those depressed, suicidal people figure out how to go on living their lives, too.

I wonder if, among their numbers, a successor will come forward to take his place now that he is gone? I hope so.
posted by misha at 7:44 AM on May 14, 2012


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posted by The Great Big Mulp at 7:52 AM on May 14, 2012


He was like a real life Catcher in the Rye.

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posted by saulgoodman at 7:55 AM on May 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


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posted by no relation at 8:09 AM on May 14, 2012


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posted by goodglovin77 at 8:20 AM on May 14, 2012


Thank you so much for making the FPP. I am so moved by this man's story and it scares me that I almost didn't know about him and the beautiful and compassionate life that he lived.
posted by OsoMeaty at 8:49 AM on May 14, 2012


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posted by BibiRose at 9:05 AM on May 14, 2012


His memory will be a blessing.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:09 AM on May 14, 2012


Time for the angel to claim his wings.

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posted by Jilder at 10:11 AM on May 14, 2012


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posted by jessian at 10:22 AM on May 14, 2012


what a fantastic man.

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posted by StrangeTikiGod at 10:43 AM on May 14, 2012


I wonder if, among their numbers, a successor will come forward to take his place now that he is gone?

I was thinking about that as well, but wouldn't they then have to actually move into his former house to do so?
posted by elizardbits at 12:08 PM on May 14, 2012


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posted by tykky at 12:53 PM on May 14, 2012


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I can only aspire to be so brave and so kind as he was.
posted by clavier at 2:23 PM on May 14, 2012


I would like to think, were I in his shoes, I would have tried to help as much as he did. I just do not think, however, that I'd figure out how simple helping really is. It takes a deep goodness to recognize something like that.

Most newspapers have a policy against publishing information about suicide attempts...

Do you know why?
posted by meese at 7:59 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


This was a truly good man. Here's sending a little prayer to whatever gods he might have believed in or considered that they've got a good place for him.
posted by jhandey at 8:09 PM on May 14, 2012


I was thinking about that as well, but wouldn't they then have to actually move into his former house to do so?

It's actually a residential area with plenty of other houses, although as you could see in the photo accompanying this article, he did have a particularly good vantage point for watching the cliffs.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:06 PM on May 14, 2012


For anyone else who is interested, I think I found the spot where this man lived & saved others (link).
posted by AMSBoethius at 10:19 PM on May 14, 2012


awesome

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posted by Golden Eternity at 10:21 PM on May 14, 2012


It's said that the worth of a man's life is how many lives they touched. Don's life was worth more than the wealth in the greatest bank in the world.

Godspeed to you, good sir.
posted by Not The Stig at 4:37 AM on May 15, 2012


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