Man Lives on cliff and talks down suicide jumpers for last 50 years
Meet the Australian Who’s Saved 160 People from Suicide Don Ritchie lives across the street from the most famous suicide spot in Australia: A cliff known as “The Gap.” Most people would move, but Ritchie’s stayed for almost 50 years—saving an estimated 160 people from suicide. So what’s his big secret? Ritchie wakes up every morning and looks out the window for “anyone standing alone too close to the precipice.” If he sees someone who looks like they might be contemplating a jump, he walks over and… strikes up a conversation. He just gives them a warm smile, asks if they’d like to talk and invites them back to his house for tea. Sometimes, they join him. “I’m offering them an alternative, really,” Ritchie says. “I always act in a friendly manner. I smile.” Ritchie’s house might be the worst real estate ever. One person a week commits suicide at the “the Gap,” the cliff he lives across from. It’s protected only by a small, one-meter fence, despite its legendary reputation as a suicide spot dating back to the 1800s. But the former life insurance salesman says he doesn’t feel “burdened” by the fact that people are always contemplating jumping to their deaths outside his house. In fact, he and his wife Moya see it as a blessing: “I think, ‘Isn’t it wonderful that we live here and we can help people?’” Ritchie, who basically sounds like the nicest guy in the entire world, is 84, and has spent much of the last year battling cancer. But, as you might expect for a dude who’s managed to live across from a fucked-up, tragic place, and not become a casualty himself, he’s optimistic: “I imagine somebody else will come along and do what I’ve been doing.” I hope so.
I came upon twin fawns in the display case of a mom and pop toy and science store in Kansas City, Missouri. It took me two years to win the trust of the shop owner and save the money to buy them. A taxidermist spotted a dead deer by the side of the road. He stopped to properly dispose of the body and realized she was pregnant. He opened her and found near full-term twin fawns, he removed and preserved them.
Deer rarely have twins and the taxidermist retained the uterine gesture of their bodies. I built them a vitrine with a light blue base. Their prematurity exaggerates the delicacy of an incredibly sweet thing. The points of their hooves, the length of their lashes, the spots of their hides, nose to small nose in an ur-cartoonish realism … Viewers’ eyes trick them into believing the fawns are breathing. The tragedy of beauty is its transience.
The twins live forever in their own demise. They are sleeping beauties.They have been muses since I first saw them … We dress death in lilies and bronze the names of our dead sons on walls. We erect altars of toys and hold candlelight vigils to express hope. My twin fawns sleep endlessly on their baby blue block in my studio. The twins never opened their eyes yet their wondrous fatality evokes an acceptable alternative to death.
— Peregrine Honig