Today is National Suicide Prevention Day! Samaritans 5K Team Captain, Heidi Stavris, shares the story of losing her friend, Mike, three years ago this month, and why she chooses organize Team Memories for Mike E. and raise awareness for suicide prevention.
I first met Mike Emanuel with his close friends, Chris and Peter, when I was in 7th grade. Through our after school hangouts, pool parties, trips to the mall and many movie nights, middle school was over too soon. In came high school with the dances, new schools, and new friends. It wasn’t until 11th grade when we all went separate ways and I lost contact with the guys. It took one random night when I was visiting my friend at Northeastern University when Mike and I literally walked into each other. From that point on, we bumped into each other at the most random times, without conversation or plans in between. The last run-in I had with Mike was in early July of 2010. We hung out just about every day, had dinner at different restaurants, saw a movie or two, picked out Halloween costumes together, and even planned to attend a Halloween fundraiser for a friend. Mike and I would laugh just about the whole time we were together. We were all grown up and there was nothing stopping our planned time together, so I thought.
I had no idea what Mike was going through. Although he told me some things about his family and how he missed how close he and his friends used to be; he never gave me reason to doubt his happiness…until the day I got a phone call from a mutual friend of ours telling me he was no longer with us.
After hearing this horrifically shocking news, my close friend, Tom, told me about a race he runs for his brother who he lost to suicide. As soon as he told me about the Samaritans 5K, I was Googling it. Once I registered, the Samaritans called me to check-in and hear my story – not realizing that my story began at 8:45pm, that very same night, on September 27, 2010.
I have only been asked “why?” regarding my involvement with the Samaritans once…but my response honestly came from the bottom of my heart when I said, “I run to carry on the life and light that Mike gave us every time we were with him. It’s important to carry that on, and share with others how wonderful he was, how this guy could really walk into a room and demand happiness from everyone. And now that is what my team does because we carry on his torch together.” I have heard from the guys that he truly was “that guy” when they would all go on vacations together. He would help anyone out, make friends with everyone, and have the biggest smile on his face the entire time. If he knew we made such a big deal out of him these days, I think he would be a little embarrassed but we don’t care because this is how special he was to us… So incredibly special enough to raise awareness to help others who struggle, so that they don’t lose sight of their light.