by Dan Gibson
Although the internet does enough to make me feel like I hate every single person on the planet at times, without it I would have never read the Christian Science Monitor's story in 2010 about Don Ritchie, an Australian man who moved near a famous suicide spot for the view and in the process ended up saving over 500 lives. Ritchie, who was awarded the Medal for the Order of Australia in 2006 for his service, died at his home yesterday at the age of 85.
Over the decades, Ritchie says, many of the faces of the people he's saved have blurred. But some he still remembers clearly, such as the woman he spotted from his bedroom window early one morning, sitting right on the cliff's edge.
"I quickly got dressed and went over," he recalls. "She had already put her handbag and shoes outside the fence, which is pretty common. They very often leave something behind – sometimes it's a note, but generally a piece of clothing.
"I said to her: 'Why don't you come over and have a cup of tea?' She came with me, and Moya made her breakfast. When she got home, she rang to say she was feeling much better. Two or three months later, she walked up the garden path with a magnum of French champagne."