Beachy Head, on the south coast of England, close to the town of Eastbourne is a popular tourist destination, due to its wonderful scenic views. Indeed, the very name is taken from an older French name meaning “Beautiful Headland”. The unspoiled chalk cliffs and undeveloped lands close by give a dramatic and rugged viewpoint that has been used many times in films.
Less pleasant is the fact that Beachy Head is the third most ‘popular’ suicide spot in the world! Over the last few years an average of twenty people have chosen this place to end their lives.
On a visit there in June 2011, I was surprised to see the plaque pictured here, quoting Psalm 93 and ‘signed’ with the letters MB. The secularization of our society has become so universal that I had not expected to see a biblical text on public display in this manner. I decided to investigate further…
I discovered that this plaque is one of a series scattered around the world (at least three in the UK). They have been placed in areas of outstanding natural beauty as a praise ministry by The Evangelical Sisterhood Of Mary (a German religious order) to (in their words) ‘Give the Almighty Artist recognition for His works’!
This one at Beachy Head is credited with deterring at least one prospective suicide. Someone who had suffered from drink problems and depression had, whilst drunk, decided to end it all and went to Beachy Head for that purpose. On the way to the cliff face, they literally fell over the plaque, and having read it were brought to their knees, and their senses. They thought of their children, decided they could not hurt them so badly as what they were planning would do and phoned their minister from the headland.
The ‘MB’ to whom the comment is attributed is presumed to be Mother Basilea (Dr. Klara Schlink) 1904–2001, one of the founders of the order, although this is not explicitly stated in the information I have seen.
My heart was thrilled when I saw this plaque. The story behind it, and the others like it, is greater still. Praise God for his wonderful handiwork!