Boston Marathon

Joe Mageary is running in tribute to those he lost this year

"The more I talk about my reason for running Boston 2020, the more I hear from people that they, too, have been impacted by suicide."

Joe Mageary lost two family members and a former classmate to suicide in 2019. Joe Mageary

In our “Why I’m Running” series, Boston Marathon runners share what’s inspiring them to make the 26.2-mile trek from Hopkinton to Boston. If you’re running the marathon, you can share your #WhyImRunningBoston story here.

Name: Joe Mageary
Age: 38
From: Somerville, Massachusetts

At the end of June 2019, I completed my training to become a Red Cross Disaster Mental Health volunteer. At the beginning of July 2019, I lost two family members to suicide. Later in 2019, a former classmate of mine also took her life. I am a licensed mental health counselor with experience working in psychiatric emergency services. I talked with my brother-in-law nine days before he died…but, still, we had no idea that he was thinking of ending his life. Jon’s family is a family of runners who introduced me to the sport, so when I received a Red Cross volunteer’s email that asked for applications from people interested in running the 2020 Boston Marathon as a part of Team Red Cross, I signed up immediately.

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I run to heal. I run in tribute to those I’ve lost. I run to support the Red Cross’ mission of providing help, from free smoke detectors to free disaster mental health support, to anyone in need. I also run as an excuse to talk about the fact that depression is a disease of isolation. Talking helps and not talking about our struggles is part of the problem. Not only can talking help people who are struggling with hopelessness but I have found that it also helps the people who have lost loved ones to suicide. The more I talk about my reason for running Boston 2020, the more I hear from people that they, too, have been impacted by suicide. Connection of this sort is one way that we heal.

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This will be my first marathon. As I cross the finish line on Boylston Street, I will have three words on my lips: Jon, Celine, and Cynthia.

Editor’s note: Entry may have been lightly edited for clarity or grammar.

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