Don Ritchie

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Don Ritchie
Donald Taylor Ritchie

9 June 1925
Died13 May 2012 (aged 86)
ResidenceOld South Head Road,Watsons Bay, New South Wales
OccupationRoyal Australian Navy
Costing Clerk
Life insurance salesman
Spouse(s)Moya Ritchie
ChildrenJan, Donna, and Sue
Parent(s)Leila Ritchie (Mother)

Donald Taylor "Don" Ritchie, OAM (9 June 1925 – 13 May 2012) was an Australian who officially rescued 160 people from suicide as of 2009 over a 45-year period, although his family claims the number is closer to 500. Ritchie resided next to The Gap, a cliff in Sydney, Australia, known for multiple suicide attempts. In 2006, he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his rescues,[1] the official citation being for "service to the community through programs to prevent suicide."[2] Ritchie and his wife Moya were also named "Citizens of the Year" for 2010 by Woollahra Council, the local government authority responsible for The Gap.[3] He received Local Hero Award for Australia in 2011, the National Australia Day Council saying: "His kind words and invitations into his home in times of trouble have made an enormous difference ... With such simple actions, Don has saved an extraordinary number of lives."[4]

Ritchie explained his intervention in suicide attempts saying, "You can't just sit there and watch them."[5]

He enlisted into the Royal Australian Navy in 1939 as a Seaman during World War II aboard HMAS Hobart and witnessed the unconditional surrender of the Japanese Imperial Forces in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945, officially ending World War II in the Pacific. After the war he was a life insurance salesman.[5]

Upon seeing someone on The Gap in distress, Ritchie would cross the road from his property and engage them in conversation, often beginning with the words, "Can I help you in some way?" Afterwards Ritchie would invite them back to his home for a cup of tea and a chat. Some of the people he helped would return years later to thank him for his efforts in talking them out of their decision.

Ritchie died on 13 May 2012, age 86. He was survived by his wife Moya and their three daughters.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Benson, Kate (1 August 2009). "An angel walking among us at The Gap". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 17 June 2010.
  2. ^ "Australian Honours". Government of Australia. Retrieved 17 June 2010.
  3. ^ "Suicide watchman saves scores at death spot". The Independent. Independent Print Limited. 13 June 2010. Retrieved 17 June 2010.
  4. ^ "Confront suicidal people, Local Hero says". Sydney Morning Herald. 25 January 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  5. ^ a b Gelinau, Kristen (13 June 2010). "Australian 'angel' saves lives at suicide spot". msnbc. Archived from the original on 17 June 2010. Retrieved 17 June 2010.
  6. ^ Walker, Chris (14 May 2012). ""Angel of the Gap" Don Ritchie dies, aged 85". Wentworth Courier. News Community Media. Retrieved 14 May 2012.