Part I. A suicide mission

“I couldn’t help Hernan, but I thought, I’m going to help someone else,”

Emiliana, Helpers volunteer

I am sending you these lines about how I became involved with Helpers. I consider it to have been the most profound story of my life. The story created an impulse inside of me, which summoned me to become part of Helpers as a most active and committed volunteer.

My name is Emiliana, I have lived in Capital Federal for years, but most of my life has been between San Clemente del Tuyu, my beloved village, belonging to the Pdo of the Coast and Mar del Plata, a seaside town that is located about 400 kms from CABA.

I am a coach, physical education teacher and university teacher. I was introduced to the
Helpers foundation in November of last year – 2019 – within Megatlon, a network of clubs in which I have worked for several years now, when Miguel – company security manager and our trainer in all things related to cardio safety and first aid – brought the app, told us what it was, invited us to download it and to be part of the Megatlon community.

Following this, I had no further contact with Helpers, except on some occasions that I entered the app to see news and publications.

2020 began and already by the middle of March, the preventive and compulsory social isolation began as a result of the pandemic. It enclosed us all into a life of its own.

I started working a lot from my home, as a virtual coach for the club, as a remote teacher for the university in various subjects and doing some training videos to help those who did not know how to work out at home.

In the middle of the day, on a Thursday, I don’t remember more, I was finishing a zoom class when I got a message on Whatsapp from my best friend who lives in San Clemente. She wrote me the worst news I had received in years, perhaps the most painful I had received in my life.

She wrote: “Hernán comitted suicide.”

Hernán had been my first love, my childhood and adolescent boyfriend, my partner, my friend, my brother, my family, my everything. In those years, he had been my everything.

And while some years had past and though I left that village and slowly lost touch, I always belonged to that family. I had adopted myself into it and took it as my own. I always remembered it as a founding part of my life.

Hernan was also a coach, with a career in Physical Education and Lifeguarding. He had saved lives on the beaches he care for most up until March and had decided now to end his own.

I couldn’t believe it. I felt it so much, but I couldn’t travel, kiss his mom
or accompany the family. I made a virtual farewell in my house, lit a candle, and dedicated a few words in video call with an intimate effect. And so I said let him go, and life went on. Hernan hanged himself with a rope. And no one could help, hold him back or listen.

A few days passed and when I went back to the app, I saw that they were summoning volunteers and that one of the possibilities was to be an operator. And although I had always felt the need to give a hand, help and occupy part of my time with service activity, I had seldom found time for it. In the business of my city life, I never had time for anything but work. So I didn’t hesitate. I got in touch with Miguel and very quickly I got trained with Nacho and Santiago who, with all the patience in the world, helped me get started as an operator.

I put together a notebook for Helpers. I wrote down all the colors identify cases, a pen and full of nerves, I had my first day of calls while Nacho told me: “Calm Emi, I’m here. Any questions, just let me know what you need.” And thus, he helped calm my anxiety.

In short, I knew that part of my decision to be part on the operator team had been mobilized by Hernán’s decision.

His decision not to live prompted me to help others who, like him, feel like abandoning all that comes with being alive. I couldn’t help Hernan, but I thought, I’m going to help someone else. This is my chance. I could see this as an opportunity amid sadness and that was wonderful.

I came to this understanding on my first day, when throughout the calls, I picked up the phone for young woman. I introduced myself and said who I was and what we did at Helpers and that her call was being taken by me and she responded with appreciateion. She needed help, because the week before, she had intended to kill herself — but had failed when the cable she used snapped.

It was strong and I remember I breathed deeply, held her words with me. I told her I was embracing her through the distance and I promised to help her begin treatment with professionals. I promised this to her and she made a promise to me.

Because I felt that this signal was clear, there was a sense that I was walking with her. The help, the service, the empathy, the solidarity. The way is to only think, hear and imagine what a better world would be like to live in — less violence, more generosity, less hostility, but all while envisioning a way to get to work, and help build this.

I feel welcomed in Helpers. I feel useful in Helpers, and most importantly, I feel more human in Helpers.

Thank you for reading my story.

Helpers is an organization that aims to create an international social network of volunteers trained to help, by allowing any organization to develop its own volunteer community. Using an app based on geolocation, and an intelligent management and analysis system, the network of trained volunteers connects people who need help with people who are able to provide it. This happens in real time. Currently, the organization operates in Argentina and Uruguay.