It doesn’t take much to make a difference. That’s the message of the #HeyAreYouOK? campaign. A simple question asked with compassion to someone in distress could be the difference between someone choosing life instead of death.
Some of us, however, will go that extra mile to help encourage a person contemplating suicide to give life another chance. On a recent visit to Australia I heard of a local hero who, over a period of 50 years, helped not just one person, but hundreds of people. Don Richie passed in May 2012 at the age of 85, but his memory lives on. He is known affectionately as the Angel of the Gap, and this is his story.
Don lived across from the Gap, a large expanse of cliffs on the east Sydney coastline, where people contemplating suicide give up their lives. A remarkable man, Don chose to live across from a hotspot so that he could help save lives. He would look out of his window every morning to check if anyone was close to the edge. If he saw someone who looked like they were thinking about scaling the barrier to jump, he would walk up to them, smile and ask “can I help you in some way?” Don did not have any training in suicide prevention or mental health; it was his compassion and willingness to help that saved lives.
This interview was recorded the year before he passed.
#HeyAreYouOK? A simple question can make all the difference