Jack Ritchie Inquest Concludes, Grieving Parents Unhappy With Government Actions

The parents of a 24-year old English teacher who took his own life in 2017, are unhappy with the British government’s responsive measures in dealing with problem gambling and voice their grievances in an exclusive with The Guardian.

Bereaved Family Fears Government Not Helpful Enough

Back at the beginning of March, David Urpeth, the Sheffield coroner, delivered the final strokes in the inquest of Jack Ritchie’s suicide, calling attention to the “woefully inadequate” help and preventative measures for problem gamblers back in 2017. Jack’s parents Charles and Liz, aren’t happy with how the government is continuing to handle problem gambling today and as per The Guardian’s exclusive, Liz has shared that “Our concern is it seems to be saying more of the same system, that is the system that killed Jack.”

This presents a real problem, especially considering that Urpeth has said that it was “abundantly clear” that gambling has contributed to Jack’s death, increasing the importance of better tools for spreading information, and providing help with and prevention of gambling addiction.

The UK government is responding with some historically significant changes, like limiting the maximum stake for fixed-odds betting terminals – the very same ones Jack used – to £2, down from £100, and expanding National Health Service (NHS) clinics to provide better help to those affected by problem gambling.

However, the couple is unsatisfied with the government’s softer attitude towards misinformation or the lack of commitment to enforcing strictly managed taxes on the gambling industry in order to fund prevention efforts and treatment of people affected by gambling addiction.

To address the first problem, Charles and Liz have founded a charity called “Gambling with Lives” to inform people about the link between gambling and suicides and provide the bigger picture with the help of more affected families.

A Family Story Shared by Hundreds

In 2017 Jack Ritchie, a 24-year-old Sheffield man, an English teacher in Hanoi, took his own life because of problem gambling. Years later, the problem of gambling addiction is still wrecking hundreds of families’ lives annually, and Jack’s parents have taken the greater initiative to inform the wider public about the true dangers of gambling and its links to suicide.

Liz, Jack’s mother, said that “Right by the school there was something that was enticing him that was more addictive than heroin, that was promoted as safe, that he had ready access to,” recalling how her son started betting his dinner money at fixed-odds betting terminals – FOBTs –  near his school, back when Jack was 17. “We didn’t have the tools to help him and we didn’t know the suicide risk. We were given false messages,” continues Liz, as reported by The Guardian. Charles, Jack’s father, added that “Jack started gambling on something that he was told was normal and a bit of fun,” completing the picture of how the family feels misled by false information.

An unnamed government spokesperson has told the media that “the tragic death of Jack Ritchie is a stark reminder of the devastating consequences harmful gambling can have on individuals, their families, and friends,” agreeing with the overall sentiment that Jack’s family shares. Spreading awareness of the negative consequences of gambling must be a critical focal point for the government’s prevention efforts, however toilsome it might be.

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