top of page

MICHELLE HATHAWAY

Fundraiser, Marketing & PR Professional;

Former Board President of American Foundation    for Suicide Prevention - Hudson Valley (AFSP-HV)  

Board President & Fund Representative

Loss: Sibling

My brother, Bryan, took his life 14 years ago. He was 30 years-old and left behind a 14-month-old son, and an unfathomable amount of pain for his family and his namesake.


Bryan struggled his whole life with bipolar disorder, 

a form of mental illness characterized by fluctuating extreme emotions. On the outside, he was "perfect"

- always meticulously dressed and coiffed, right down to his eyebrows. But on the inside, he was a mess - unable to control the thoughts in his mind and the emotions he felt due to a chemical imbalance in his brain.   

Subsequent training has taught me that suicide CAN BE preventable. Not ALL the time, but in many cases, if we know the warning signs and familiarize ourselves with what to say -- or not to say -- in uncomfortable or life-threatening/crisis situations. So, let's start talking!. Why should conversations about mental health be any different than talking about cancer, or heart disease or obesity?

 

#TalkSavesLives, and I'm here to help turn the tide.

I am the former Board President of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention - Hudson Valley (AFSP-HV) Chapter. I've lobbied elected officials in Washington, DC and Albany, NY to raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention. I routinely participate in AFSP-HV's Out of the Darkness  Community Walks and the Here Comes the Sun bike runs for many years. I am co-founder of the Terwilliger Family Legacy Fund for Charitable Endeavors, which also supports nonprofits for mental wellness and suicide prevention .I bring professional fundraising, marketing. and public relations skills to advance this foundation's mission.        

Linda Ferraro.jpg
Jessica%20Filangeri%20Parashar_edited.jp

JESSICA FILANGERI PARASHAR

High School Guidance Counselor

Board Member

Loss: Son

On October 8th, 2019, my world came to a crashing halt. My son, Surya, took his life on a random Tuesday afternoon.  He was 21 years old.  For him, it wasn't random at all.  I'll never know for sure what he went through on that day, but I know that his suffering was so great that he could not go on another day.  On October 8th, 2019, I thought for sure, I would just cease to exist.  I thought, even hoped, that I would not survive another day.  How could I?  But I did.  In fact, I've survived 587 days, so far. 

Surya was an amazing young man.  He was so smart and so kind.  He was thoughtful and selfless.  He never wanted anyone to worry about him and, and as I later discovered, he pretended for years to be "ok." He was not ok.  

 

He was not ok for so long and I had no idea.  My son hid his depression and his anxiety from his friends, his family, his professors and co-workers.  He kept everything to himself.  He did not want to disappoint us and he did everything he was ever asked and expected to do.  When he first went away to college, we thought he was all set.  He had a scholarship to RPI and a bright future ahead of him.  I had no idea how terrified he was.  He was unsure of himself and felt completely hopeless.  3 years before he completed suicide, he came home from college and told us that he had “a plan.” He had been thinking about it for years.  We had no idea. 

 

I learned a lot about my son after his death. Unfortunately, it was too late. We tried everything once we knew. He went into counseling, tried different medications for his depression and anxiety. He participated in an outpatient program. We even got a puppy.  Many times during those three years we thought he would be okay. 

In the time since my son's death, I have met some wonderful and amazing people who have helped me survive and to find some meaning in this tragedy.  I have partnered with these “unfortunate friends” who are also survivors of suicide, and we are on a mission, through this new foundation, to raise awareness about depression and hopelessness in teens and adolescents.

Rob%20Hennessy_edited.jpg

ROB HENNESSY

Board Chair, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention - Hudson Valley Chapter

Board Member

Loss: Niece

​On June 3rd, 2008, I had no experience with suicide, mental health, or depression in general.  That all changed early the following morning when we received a call that our niece, Regan had 'died' by suicide. Regan was our niece, but we had custody of her for more than half her twenty years. My wife, Mary, and I considered her our daughter, and our daughter, Alyssa, looked up to her as a big sister, not a cousin.

You will notice that I did not use the verb 'committed' suicide above. One of the things I have learned as a part of this painful journey is that people do not 'commit' suicide. They 'commit' transgressions - like robberies, assaults, or even adultery…but not suicide. Research has shown that 90% of all suicides are a direct result of known or unknown depression or other mental health disorders. You would not say, for example, that someone ‘committed’ cancer or a heart attack. These mental health issues are medical issues and deserve to be recognized that way. By reducing the stigma surrounding mental health, we hope to provide solutions to people who are struggling on their own.

 

My healing really began 8 years ago when I got involved with the Hudson Valley Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP-HV). I have learned and grown so much over the course of this time and now volunteer many hours for the cause of suicide prevention. I am an active member of the HV/Westchester County Board of AFSP, participate in AFSP's Healing Conversations program and Mary and I now host a Survivor of Suicide Support Group, previously run by an absolute saint, Rose Terwilliger.  

 

I have helped organize AFSP-HV's Out of the Darkness  Community Walks and their annual  Here Comes the Sun bike runs. My involvement with suicide prevention has now expanded even more, through my involvement with this foundation. I am proud to be a part of this professional and passionate group.

 

Volunteers_edited.jpg

VOLUNTEERS

We are fortunate to have several volunteers who help promote our mission and support our cause. Current volunteers include three mothers who have each lost a son to suicide. Pictured here are, Rose Terwilliger and Mary Ann Graser (front & rear left), and Pamela Dickerson Cook (front right) with board member Linda Ferraro.. 

ABOUT US

fall.jpg

LINDA FERRARO

Founder: Here Comes the Sun Foundation and Former Board Member American Foundation for Suicide Prevention - Hudson Valley Chapter 

Fund Representative​

Loss: Son

I lost my 18-year-old son, Nick, to suicide August 20, 2004 – the summer he graduated high school. My son was outgoing, happy, friendly and popular. He played sports, loved dirt bike riding and snow-boarding, enjoyed life and lived to have fun. He was practicing for his motorcycle license; he was thinking about college, he was the kid who could have done anything… but who thought it would be suicide. It was a total shock to everyone who knew Nick, it was too out of character for him.

 

When he told me he thought he had depression, I immediately brought him for help and he was put on meds and assigned a counselor. I knew nothing of depression and I naively assumed it was a temporary feeling that meds and counseling would cure. I did not know the depth of depression or how this was such a difficult struggle for him, as he hid it well. In just two short months, he ended his life. The pain he suffered overcame his senses and ability to go on; he knew no other way to end his pain. Nick wasn’t equipped with the tools he needed to help get him through this and neither were we.

This was in 2004, and mental health was rarely spoken of, suicide was swept under the rug and there was no support. As a mother, I felt tremendous guilt for not understanding depression and failure for not being able to help my son. After grief counseling, we joined with others who lost someone to suicide and formed Here Comes the Sun, a group to help bring awareness to help prevent others from this tragedy. With hopes of reaching more, we needed a larger platform and we helped bring American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to the Hudson Valley.

As a mother, I didn’t have the tools needed to prevent my son’s death; neither did his family or friends, which is why this group’s mission is so close to my heart. Through training, others will learn how to prevent suicide by recognizing signs, engaging the person in conversation, asking the right questions and helping find the intervention resource for ongoing support. Together we can help save lives...we are friends for suicide prevention. 

 

I do this in memory of Nick so his death was not in vain.

 

suicide awareness ribbon.jpg
bottom of page