Walking to Raise Awareness

After losing two brothers to suicide, Mary Beth Traynor vowed to raise awareness of suicide prevention—now she’s encouraging her colleagues to do the same

September 15, 2014

A month before the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) annual Out of the Darkness walk in Boston, flyers and signs begin popping up throughout the McLean Hospital campus—it’s an early sign of fall and it also signals that Mary Beth Traynor, executive secretary for the Department of Managed Care, has started her annual campaign to raise awareness about suicide prevention.

Traynor, along with her colleagues from McLean and other mental health advocacy organizations, will be lacing up her sneakers on Saturday, October 25, to participate in the AFSP 11th annual Out of the Darkness Boston walk.

“My husband Mike and I participate in the Out of the Darkness Walks in memory of my two brothers who died by suicide,” says Traynor.

Traynor’s brother Joe died in 1982 at age 25 after a long battle with alcoholism and 12 years later her brother Jim developed depression and ended his life at age 34, leaving two daughters, ages two and four.

Mary Beth Traynor and Michele Gougeon
Mary Beth Traynor won McLean’s Vision of Excellence Award in 2013

“When someone dies by suicide, it affects more than just the family. It affects friends, team mates, and co-workers”, says Traynor.

Traynor credits organizations like the AFSP for providing much-needed support for her and her family as they struggled to cope with the losses of Joe and Jim.

“You don’t just ‘get on with your life’ after a suicide. It’s there 24/7. But with the help of organizations like AFSP, I learned to accept that what they did was their choice. I cannot change that, but I can help raise funds for research and education and to promote suicide awareness,” says Traynor. “This year I was invited to AFSP’s annual conference in Denver with representatives from all over the U.S. We were all survivors with one common goal, to erase the stigma of suicide and mental illness by talking about it. I am so proud to be a part of the AFSP and McLean communities and I encourage everyone to join us in Boston on October 25 and walk Out of the Darkness for suicide prevention.”

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