JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The call came to Coach Mike Gillespie around 1 a.m.
"I was devastated," Gillespie remembers.
Then--in a matter of months--he got the same type of call. He sobbed.
Gillespie helped mentor two Jacksonville basketball players who took their own lives. Pat Heinold and Tommy Waters were players destined for college ball, their AAU coach says.
Pat played at Bolles. Tommy at Providence.
"The last two players I'd ever thought would take their own life," their coach says. But the boys are two of four of his players who have died from suicides in the last five years.
Gillespie says the rise in suicides concerns him greatly. He's coached 45 years and has never seen anything like this.
According to the American Psychological Association, the increase in the rate of suicides in the U.S. from 2000 to 2016 has jumped 30%. The second leading cause of death in young people from age 10 to 34 is suicide.
Coach worries about the boys' parents. And he can't escape haunting questions himself. "Is there something I could have done? I don't think so. But it gnaws at you the rest of your life."
Hank Heinold, Pat's father, says there was no mental health condition prior to his son's suicide.
Tommy Water's father, a JSO officer, says the same thing. He's supportive of any efforts to help in the cause.
Hank Heinold is inviting everyone to the 2nd Annual Patrick's 3v3 Basketball Tournament at Bolles, Saturday, April 6. It's for ages 5th grade and up. Registration is going on now prior to the tournament. You don't have to be an ace player. Just come enjoy the game of basketball.
The tourney will raise money for suicide awareness and prevention.
Register at: www.patrickheinoldfoundation.org