Friday, 9 July 2010

Couple giving life saving hope at suicide spot are named Citizens of the Year

I was recently made aware of a wonderful, heart-warming story from Australia.

Don Ritchie, a man who lives opposite Autralia's most notorious suicide spot, a rocky cliff at the entrance of Sydney Harbour called 'The Gap' (pictured), has for years been quietly encouraging potential jumpers not to take their own lives.

Ritchie's philosophy could easily serve as an explanation for the work of SPUC and the pro-life movement:
You can't just sit there and watch them. You gotta try and save them. It's pretty simple.
Official tallies estimate that Don has saved 160 people in total, but he does not personally keep count. His local council, Woolahra, recently named Ritchie and his wife Moya Citizens of the Year.

I found this passage from the article particularly poignant:
"I'm offering them an alternative, really," Don says. "I always act in a friendly manner. I smile."

A smile cannot, of course, save everyone; the motivations behind suicide are too varied. But simple kindness can be surprisingly effective. Mental health professionals tell the story of a note left behind by a man who jumped off San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way to the bridge, the man wrote, I will not jump.
People like Don are a wake-up call to a world where we witness the promotion of euthanasia for people who are 'tired of life', and to the UK where assisted suicide is now effectively accepted by the legal system.

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