HAWLEY - This Friday will be six years to the date when our community lost Tyler Whitman, died by suicide at the age of 18, freshman at the University of Pittsburgh and a Wallenpaupack Graduate.

Afterwards, his mother Sheila and father Chuck became involved in the Northeast Suicide Prevention Initiative (NSPI) in order to help other people reach out, get educated about suicide prevention and get resources about these tragedies. The goal is to help even just one person find their way through a potentially tragic situation, and to raise awareness in order to reduce the stigma regarding the subject of suicide and mental illness.

Why the open mic?

Tyler loved music, he was a self-taught guitar and ukulele player. He wrote original music and he would sing. He started with violin at an early age and progressed to the previous instruments as well as piano. So, the idea to have an open mic was to have a different means for people to express themselves besides the run (mentioned below). 

This fits right in line with Jason from Sonugrey, who believes in these forms of expression in order to reduce the pressures of daily life and feel a change on the world around you.

The Open Mic will take place on Friday, March 2 at 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Boiler Room in the Hawley Silk Mill.

It will be an open mic format open to poetry, theatre, and most importantly (says Jason), music. Feel free to contact info@sonusgrey.com for any questions about time slots or equipment.

He will be also playing with his band Rare Form, who is also comprised of Jason, Benya, and Gabby. Find them at www.rareform.band

Hosting will be Robert Tellefsen, of Handsome Johnny. You can find him here: https://www.facebook.com/roberttellefsenmusic/ Robert plays locally and abroad and was connected with the NYC music scene in the 60s.

Speaking at the event will be Sheila Whitman, Dorothy Beam, and Jen Liddy to speak of their experiences with losing their sons to suicide.

Light snacks and refreshments will be provided, all donations of food will be accepted.  

Donations will be taken at the door to covers the costs of event, and the remaining funds will be going directly to benefit NSPI. Information below.

Northeast Suicide Prevention Initiative
Sheila Whitman (volunteer for NSPI) - 5706893345
Kathy Wallace (President of NSPI) coordination and education for schools, agencies  - 5705752343
Dorothy Beam (volunteer for NSPI)
Michele Valensky (Vice President NSPI)
Sonusgrey – provides audio and helping organizing Benya Barshai
Jason Merrill - 5708622453, Gabriella Borges, Robert Tellefsen

About NSPI:

NSPI is a nonprofit 501c3 – started in Lackawanna county, they provide any assistance at all to any county in NEPA – last year, Wayne county had a suicide prevention task force, and asked if they could join the initiative. They have monthly meetings, all the money that they raise stays in wayne county. All the money STAYS LOCAL. None goes to national organizations. All volunteers, no salary or reimbursement.

They get requests from People; this year focus is on first responders since they are a high-risk group. The last few years they were focusing on school aged kids. They have walks in Wayne and Lackawanna county. Check them out on Facebook for dates. http://www.northeastsuicidepreventioninitiative.org/

Sept 22nd for the walk in Wayne County at WAHS.
Sept 8th for Lackawanna County at the courthouse.
They take calls for at risk people and their families. All services are free.

There is a run in Hawley every year to raise funds for a scholarship that NSPI gives out in Tyler’s name at Wallenpaupack. Part of the criteria is writing an essay on suicide prevention and awareness.

About Sonusgrey:

Sonusgrey is a recording studio and event organizer – Jason Merrill, Benya Barshai, and Gabriella Borges have all been affected by mental illness and suicide in their community and want to do something about it.