Jack Ritchie, aged 24, secured a degree in history, volunteered for work in Kenya helping potential entrepreneurs, then moved to Vietnam to teach English.
Last November 22, he jumped to his death from a rooftop in Hanoi.
Jack’s problem: he was addicted to gambling and he killed himself when he concluded that he could no longer control his actions.
The young man’s story emerged last week when the National Health Service announced it was to open its first clinic specifically for young gambling addicts. A long-term plan will see 14 clinics established around England to support and treat those affected aged 13 to 25.
Ritchie’s mother, Liz, welcomed the announcement, saying, “If Jack had a referral there, it would probably have saved him.”
Jack started gambling his school dinner money at a local betting shop in Sheffield when he was 17. Along with his mates, he faked an adult ID to play on fixed-odds betting machines, where you can win or lose up to £100 every 20 seconds.
By the time his parents discovered what was going on, Jack was losing around £1,000 a month.
Liz said her son went to see his local GP but the doctor didn’t know how to refer him or to whom. Jack also “excluded himself” from local bookmakers’ premises, but he could not escape online betting firms’ emails or avoid advertisements on Facebook, and in 2013 he began betting again.
From Hanoi last November, Liz and her husband Charles received an email from Jack, “I’m having a bit of a bad time and I feel I need to come home.” His dad sent him £2,000 to pay off his debts, the worst thing he could have done, because Jack used the money to bet again.
After gambling all day, winning heavily then losing everything he had won, he emailed, “I’m past the point of controlling myself and I’m not coming back from this one.” Desperately his parents contacted their son’s friends and they spread out to find him. One knew where he might be and got to the Hanoi street by 7.45 pm, but he was too late.
The Christies have since set up a charity, Gambling With Lives, to raise awareness of the suicide risk associated with gambling.
They say research has shown that there are 430,000 adult gambling addicts in the UK and 25,000 aged between 11 and 16.
As many as 650 deaths per year in Britain are related to gambling.
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If you want to be really rich, it pays to be Latino and a super footballer, according to the US business magazine, Forbes, which has ranked the world’s 100 top-earning athletes.
Argentinian Lionel Messi, who plays for Barcelona, is the highest paid sportsman, earning £99 million in the past 12 months. He is followed by Juventus’s forward, Christiano Ronaldo, from Portugal, on £85 million, with Brazil’s Neymar of Paris St. Germain, third with £82 million.
The top three footballers are among 38 non-American athletes on the list, with 62 US stars in the top 100.
The top Briton is world champion racing driver Lewis Hamilton, sitting in 13th place on £43 million. The only woman to make the roll is the American tennis star, Serena Williams, with £23 million.
Forbes calculated the athletes’ earnings by adding up their prize money, salaries and endorsements over one year.
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There is a widespread belief among British parents that children should be exposed to harmful germs to build up their immune system. Wrong!
Experts of the Royal Society for Public Health warned in a report released last week that such beliefs are potentially harmful and could expose children to dangerous infections. There is no such thing as being “too clean,” the Society said, and issued an eight-point list of the danger areas for infection, as follows:
Handling food; eating with fingers; using the toilet; coughing, sneezing and nose-blowing; handling household cloths and dirty clothes; caring for pets; taking out the rubbish; caring for people with an infection.
The key to good hygiene is washing hands, cloths and surfaces at the right time, but one in four people think it is not important. The report said people should concentrate on cleaning specific places at specific times, even if they look clean, to stop “bad” microbes from spreading.
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A medical student thought it would be interesting, indeed a moral duty, to cure people who suffered from delusions or other mental problems. So he became a psychiatrist.
When his first patient arrived and relaxed on the couch, the psychiatrist said, “Since this is our first meeting, perhaps you should start at the very beginning.”
“Certainly,” said the patient, “In the beginning, I created the heavens and the earth…”