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Cups of Tea Save 160 Suicidal People

Don Ritchie has lived beside a cliff used for suicidal jumps for 50 years. Every time someone approaches the cliff, he goes out to make sure they don’t take their life. Over the years, he has stopped at least 160 people from killing themselves. That’s just the official estimate. The real number is said to be 400 according to his family. (Don passed away on May 13, 2012).

Don happened to live near The Gap, an ocean cliff at Sydney. It is a popular visitor destination which has gained infamy as a suicide spot over the years. It is estimated that about 50 people end their lives there each year. As individuals walked up to the cliff, looking at the crashing waves below and wondering whether to jump, Don would approach them with a smile asking, “Why don’t you come and have a cup of tea?”

Accepting his offer, these people would be invited into his home where they would have a chat over tea. No counselling, no advising, no prying. Just one human being lending a listening ear to another. Some of these people had mental problems, some had medical illnesses, some are just people going through a rough patch in life. For many, a listening ear was apparently what they needed as they changed their minds about jumping after the chat, and turned back home.

Possible Preaching Angle:

The people we walk past in the street may be on the verge of throwing in the towel--giving up. As Christians, we should be situated on the edge of their “cliff” offering hope, love, and a listening ear. We should point to Jesus who says to them, “Come unto me and I will give you rest.”


Celestine Chua, “How This Man Saved 160 People From Suicide,” Personal Excellence (Accessed 8/6/21)

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